The UK’s response to the Ebola outbreak was “far too slow” and may have contributed to the loss of life, according to a UK parliamentary report, which called the international response to the contagion “totally inadequate.”
The Public Accounts
Committee (PAC) criticized the Department for International
Development (Dfid) for failing to take seriously calls from
charities and NGOs on the ground, such as Doctors Without
Borders, which warned of the outbreak’s severity early on.
“Had the department acted sooner, both lives and money would
have been saved,” the committee said.
They said there had also been an “unfortunate time lag
between the department’s recognition that it had to act and its
allocation of funding to deal with the outbreak.”
The decision to suspend flights from the UK to areas affected by
the disease had “no scientific justification,” and
“increased the cost and difficulty of dealing with the
“The revocation of licenses to carriers to fly direct to the
region was a political decision with no basis in science and was
inconsistent with World Health Organization (WHO) advice,”
the committee stated.
“In our judgment, it will inevitably have led to an increase
in the costs of dealing with the outbreak and, potentially, to
further loss of life.”
The Ebola outbreak, which started around March last year and
mainly affected Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, has resulted in
9,150 deaths and more than 22,000 cases as of February 7.
The committee did however praise the “bravery” of
British volunteers and members of the armed forces working in
— MSF International (@MSF) February 10,
International Development Secretary Justine Greening said,
“Britain’s decision to shoulder responsibility for tackling
the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has saved lives, not cost
“The UK cannot disease-proof every developing country in the
world from potential unprecedented outbreaks, but we can offer
our full support when they strike, as we did in Sierra Leone
before any other country and at considerable risk to British
“Everyone agrees that the World Health Organization should
have reacted faster, and the global system must reform to improve
collective detection and reaction,” she said.