Yesterday evening I wrote to my MP Mr Andrew Jones to ask him to represent my (and Doctors Without Borders) request for the British government to participate in a global response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. It is this simple – the medical organisations that are working in the region are losing the battle. Unless there is a rapid and significant upscaling of input then this already out of control situation will become truly catastrophic.
I am pleased to say that Mr Jones has responded positively to this.
I think that it would be a good idea for people in other areas to drop their MP a line and ask them to contact Mr Jones with a view to supporting him.
I am totally apolitical and so is Ebola. This is not about anyones political affiliation, it is a purely humanitarian issue.
Please read this full post in order to gain an insight into the scale of the problem:
Dear Mr Dennis
Thank you for your email and for sending over the message from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) regarding the Ebola outbreak. This is such an important issue and I am happy to make representations on your behalf.
I have contacted the Rt Hon Lynne Featherstone MP, Minister in the Department for International Development whose portfolio includes West Africa, to ask if she can consider the MSF’s calls for the use of biological threat response and respond to me. As this is an issue which involves many Government departments I will also raise it with Ministers in the Department for Health and Foreign and Commonwealth Office. When I receive a reply from Ms Featherstone I will write to you again.
In the meantime please be assured that the Government will continue to provide assistance to MSF and the other partners working to tackle the Ebola outbreak.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.
With best wishes.
Member of Parliament for Harrogate and Knaresborough
Constituency office: 57 East Parade | Harrogate | HG1 5LQ
T: 01423 529614
From: Andrew Dennis [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: 02 September 2014 22:53
To: JONES, Andrew
Subject: Ebola , from Andy Dennis – nurse at HDH / Doctors Without Borders
Dear Mr Jones,
I am attaching a message to the British Government from MSF. You know how much this means to me having heard my presentation at Harrogate District Hospital.
Will you be able to represent this issue to the house? I am sure you are fully aware of the crisis, what is needed now is courage from our leaders and a genuine commitment to stand up and be counted. If ever there was a time when the government can act and not be accused of it being “all about the oil” this is it.
I look forward to your response hopefully as a matter of urgency. These people cannot wait.
Staff Nurse HDH / MSF Nurse
Begin forwarded message:
From: “Medecins Sans Frontieres” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 2 September 2014 20:36:21 BST
Subject: AN URGENT APPEAL TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT FROM MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES/DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Tuesday, 2nd September, 2014
AN URGENT APPEAL TO THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT
FROM MEDECINS SANS FRONTIERES/DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS
Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it. The British government, like a number of other states around the world, has invested in biological threat response. You have a political and humanitarian responsibility to immediately utilise these capabilities in Ebola-affected countries.
In West Africa, cases and deaths continue to surge. Riots are breaking out. Isolation centres are overwhelmed. Health workers on the front lines are becoming infected and are dying in shocking numbers. Others have fled in fear, leaving people without care for even the most common illnesses. Entire health systems have crumbled.
Ebola treatment centres are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered. It is impossible to keep up with the sheer number of infected people pouring into facilities. In Sierra Leone, infectious bodies are rotting in the streets. Rather than building new Ebola care centres in Liberia, we are forced to build crematoria.
MSF medical teams have been on the front lines of this outbreak since it emerged. We have doubled our staff over the last month, but they are completely overwhelmed. We have been ringing alarm bells for months, but the response has been too little, too late.
While funding announcements, roadmaps, and finding vaccines and treatments are welcome, they will not stop the epidemic today. We have been losing for the past six months. We must win over the next three. And we can.
To curb the epidemic, it is imperative that states, including the UK, immediately deploy civilian and military assets with expertise in bio-hazard containment. We call upon the UK government to dispatch disaster response teams, backed by the full weight of logistical capabilities. This should be done in close collaboration with the affected countries.
Without this deployment, we will never get the epidemic under control.
The following must be prioritised:
Scaling up isolation centres;
Deploying mobile laboratories to improve diagnostic capabilities;
Establishing dedicated air bridges to move personnel and equipment to and within West Africa;
Building a regional network of field hospitals to treat suspected or infected medical personnel.
While these disaster response teams will help to immediately shore up the response on the ground, the WHO and other public health agencies must put the Ebola Road Map into operation.
We must also address the collapse of state infrastructure. The health system in Liberia has collapsed. Pregnant women experiencing complications have nowhere to turn. People are also dying of malaria and diarrhoea. Hospitals need to be reopened, and newly created.
Lastly, we must change the collective mindset driving the response to the epidemic.
Coercive measures, such as laws criminalising the failure to report suspected cases, and forced quarantines, are driving people underground. This is leading to the concealment of cases, and is pushing the sick away from health systems. These measures have only served to breed fear and unrest, rather than contain the virus.
UN member states cannot focus solely on measures to protect their own borders. Only by battling the epidemic at its roots can we stem it. This is a transnational crisis, with social, economic and security implications for the African continent.
It is your historic responsibility to act. We cannot cut off the affected countries and hope this epidemic will simply burn out. To put out this fire, we must run into the burning building. Only governments such as the UK have the expertise and the resources. Please use them to address this desperate crisis.
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders UK