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Minister Sherlock to address International Ebola conference

The Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, will tomorrow (Tuesday 3rd March) address an international conference in Brussels on the Ebola crisis.

The Conference will focus on sustaining the international response to the Ebola crisis in the three most affected countries, (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone); and the longer-term aspects of social and economic recovery.

Speaking ahead of his departure to Brussels, Minister Sherlock said:

“During my visit to Sierra Leone last October, I saw firsthand the devastating effects that the Ebola outbreak has had in communities in West Africa.

“Ireland has provided over €18 million to the affected countries in West Africa, directly and through NGOs. The primary focus in these programmes is on strengthening health systems in the two countries, which were already of a poor standard but which have now been overwhelmed.

“Our aim must be to bring the numbers of Ebola cases to zero as soon as possible. In my address, I will also outline how we must bear in mind the secondary impacts of the crisis, including access to education, child and maternal health, and potential food insecurity. The longer-term aspects of social and economic reconstruction in the three most-affected countries must also be addressed so that progress in previous years is not irretrievably lost.

“Ireland will continue to work closely with EU partners, as well as through the UN system, to ensure a coordinated and robust response at international level to support of the work of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone as they continue their battle with the disease.

“We also continue to work together across Government in addressing Ebola from a domestic point of view.

“The Ebola Conference will be an important milestone in our common fight against this terrible disease. Ireland is one of three EU Member States with a resident Ambassador in Sierra Leone, which is a Key Partner Country for our aid programme, and I will be joined at the Conference by our Ambassador to Sierra Leone, Sinéad Walsh.”

Press Office
2 March 2015

Notes for editors

• The Conference will be co-chaired by Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

• Ministers from all West African countries and EU Member States as well as other countries closely involved in the fight against Ebola have been invited to attend the Conference. International agencies such as the UN, the IMF and the World Bank will also be represented.

• The Ebola outbreak, officially confirmed in Guinea in March 2014, spread rapidly to Liberia and Sierra Leone. As of 25 February 2015, the World Health Organisation reported that, to date, the total number of probable, confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola is 23,729. There have been 9,604 reported deaths.

• In 2014, Ireland provided over €18.5 million to the affected countries in West Africa, directly and through NGOs. Some €10 million was provided for our annual development programmes in our partner countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia. A primary focus of these programmes is on strengthening health systems in the two countries, which were already of poor standard but which have now been overwhelmed.

• Direct funding of over €6 million was provided for Ebola treatment facilities in both Sierra Leone and Liberia, as well as for contact-tracing, community sensitisation and child nutrition programmes, among other activities. This figure also includes a contribution of €1 million to the UN Ebola Response Multi-Partner Trust Fund established by the UN Secretary General in September to ensure coherent involvement by the UN system in the overall response to the Ebola outbreak. €778,000 was disbursed in December to support an NGO consortium in Sierra Leone to improve fleet management of ambulances and burial vehicles involved in the Ebola response.

• Planning is now underway for the Irish Aid programme in Sierra Leone and Liberia in 2015, which will continue to focus on the effects of the Ebola outbreak.

• A small team of Defence Forces personnel were deployed to Sierra Leone in November 2014 to reinforce the capacity of our Embassy in Freetown to respond to the crisis. Five additional members of the Defence Forces (medical and para-medical) have deployed to Sierra Leone to work alongside UK Armed Forces at the Ebola Treatment Unit in Kerry Town and in four District Ebola Response Centres in other parts of the country.