On 25th July 2019 the Bishop of St Albans asked the Government “what steps they are taking to help those areas affected by the latest outbreak of Ebola which has been declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the World Health Organization”. He then asked a follow-up question:
The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer and, indeed, for the money that has been made available. One of the most effective ways of rolling out preventative health education is to use local indigenous leadership. In 2015, Christian Aid and other charities recommended that NGOs should engage with local faith leaders for this purpose. Are Her Majesty’s Government following this advice? Secondly, with daily flights between DRC and Europe, given the highly infectious nature of this disease, will she explain to the House the steps that are being taken for our own domestic preparedness?
Baroness Sugg: I agree with the right reverend Prelate on the importance of getting education on this out, and community engagement remains one of the most important factors that will help in any outbreak. Strengthening this aspect of the response is a key part of the ongoing reset which the UK and other partners have pushed for. The response is increasingly working with religious leaders to help foster community trust and ownership and, on top of our wider support, we are funding anthropological research into community dynamics, which is working with faith leaders.
On the right reverend Prelate’s second question, we do of course have screening at the airports in the affected areas, but the Civil Contingencies Secretariat in the Cabinet Office is co-ordinating the UK’s preparedness, working closely with the Department of Health and Social Care, the Department for Transport and UK Border Force. We manage a returning workers scheme: people who have travelled to the area register, and we monitor their health. We have the expertise to handle a case of Ebola in the UK, with two high-level isolation units. We undertake a risk assessment every two weeks and monitor the situation daily. The current assessment is that the risk to the UK is negligible to very low.