Ebola outbreak: Slow response from British government 'cost lives'

MPs report claims lives and money could have been saved

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Lives were lost because the British government was “far too slow” to respond to the Ebola epidemic in west Africa, MPs have said in a report published today.

The Public Accounts Committee also condemned the suspension of flights between Britain and the affected area, saying there had been “no scientific justification” for the ban.

The outbreak might have been confined to Sierra Leone if the Department for International Development (DfID) had reacted more quickly to warnings from relief workers over the scale of the escalating crisis, it said.

Margaret Hodge, the PAC’s chairman, said: “Had the Department acted sooner, both lives and money would have been saved.”

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Public Accounts Committee chairman, Margaret Hodge (Getty)

The MPs told DfID that it needed to needs to review whether its current arrangements for responding to an international medical emergency adequate.

Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, said: “Britain’s decision to shoulder responsibility for tackling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone has saved lives, not cost lives.”

The World Health Organisation has been widely condemned for its slow response to the Ebola crisis, which is believed to have claimed nearly 9,000 lives in Sierra Leone, Liberia  and Guinea.

David Cameron has called for international rapid deployment squads of medical experts to be set up to respond swiftly to epidemic outbreaks in the wake of the crisis.

 

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