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King's Health Partners at heart of UK Ebola response

A team from King’s Health Partners is at the heart of the UK Government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. 

Ahead of today’s Defeating Ebola in Sierra Leone conference in London, jointly held by the UK and Sierra Leone, the Department for International Development pledged £20m for a disease treatment and prevention package. The increased funding will help public health staff to continue their work, scale up aid agencies’ response and provide vital supplies such as chlorine and protective clothing for thousands of health workers across Sierra Leone.

A contribution of £1 million from the package has been allocated to King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, a small team based at Connaught Hospital in Freetown. The King’s Sierra Leone Partnership is an initiative of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, an innovative partnership between King’s College London and three of London’s leading NHS foundation trusts – Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley. 

The money will allow the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership to greatly expand its activities working with local partners and, more recently international organisations, in a clinical and advisory role to help stop the spread of Ebola. 

The King’s Health Partners team, originally in Sierra Leone to help build and strengthen the local health system, has played a vital role in responding to Ebola since the virus first reached the country in May. Over the past two months the role of the team has rapidly extended beyond its initial management of a 16-bed isolation unit at Connaught Hospital. 

Working closely with the Sierra Leone Government and local and international partners, the team has led support for the establishment of an Ebola Command Centre in Freetown. The centre is managing the deployment of ambulance services and through support from the UK Government will scale up functions to include the collection of laboratory tests and distribution of results, co-ordination of burial teams, distribution of medical supplies and deliveries to isolation units. The team is also now providing support to two further isolation centres through clinical training, supplies and technical advice.  

The team has now grown to include three volunteer doctors and four nurses and a small group of support staff. Through the UK Government’s support, King’s will be able to continue deploying qualified clinicians to work on the frontline of the Ebola outbreak. 

Dr Oliver Johnson, Programme Director for the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership said:

“The King’s Health Partners team have been on the ground in Sierra Leone since day one of this outbreak. We have not only been able to provide a full clinical response to Ebola at Connaught Hospital, but we have also been able to increase the local capacity to identify and treat Ebola patients, provide essential clinical training, spread best practice quickly and, by setting up a Command Centre in Freetown, manage the effective flow of patients across the city. In doing so, King’s have been able to create a model which can be scaled up at pace across the country. This further funding from the UK Government is both welcome and timely.”

International Development Secretary Justine Greening said: 

“Britain is working urgently with Sierra Leone to scale up the international response to the disease. Last month Britain pledged to support 700 treatment beds in Sierra Leone, but keeping basic public health services running is vital to halt the spread of the disease. Our latest support will allow stretched medical staff and aid agencies to prevent further infection.”

More information on the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership can be found here.