A six-month mission that sent Canadian Armed Forces medical personnel to West Africa to help with the Ebola response has wound up, the federal government announced Tuesday.
The Canadian military doctors, nurses, medics and support staff have been working at a British-run Ebola treatment unit at Kerry Town, in Sierra Leone. With a marked drop in new cases, the British government informed Canada it no longer needs additional assistance to run the unit.
“I would like to thank the Canadian Armed Forces personnel for their efforts to help contain the Ebola virus in Sierra Leone,” Defence Minister Jason Kenney said in a statement announcing the end of Operation Sirona.
“The military component of Canada’s response to this epidemic has been instrumental in our whole-of-government approach to alleviate the human suffering the Ebola virus has caused in West Africa.”
The unprecedented outbreak, centred in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, is believed to have started in late December 2013. Since then there have been over 27,500 cases — which is more than 10 times the number of all known Ebola cases recorded before this outbreak.
The outbreak has claimed more than 11,000 lives.
Health-care workers — whose contact with Ebola patients always places them at high risk during outbreaks — have been particularly hard it. The most recent figures from the World Health Organization suggest at least 872 health-care workers have been infected in this outbreak and 507 have died.
It was to address the needs of that specific population that the Kerry Town treatment unit was opened. The facility, located about 30 kilometres south of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown, was established to provide high quality care for health-care workers — local and international — who contracted Ebola.
Most foreign countries, however, have chosen to fly their citizens home for care if they became infected while working in the Ebola hospitals of West Africa.
The first contingent of Canadians — drawn from the Canadian Forces Health Services Group — arrived in Sierra Leone on Dec. 30, 2014, after spending several weeks in Britain learning how to safely care for Ebola patients. Three waves of personnel were sent on the mission, deploying for roughly 60 days each time.
A total of 79 medical and support personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces took part in Operation Sirona
Via The London Free Press, Helen Branswell of The Canadian Press writes: Canadian military medical staff end Ebola mission. Excerpt: