(UK Telegraph) - The British government’s flagship hospital in Sierra Leone is caring for only eleven Ebola victims, it has emerged.
The Department for International Development has put £230million towards helping Sierra Leone fight Ebola, but only 28 people have been treated in the new facility since it opened several weeks ago.Another hospital a few miles away is having to turn Ebola victims away from its doors, meaning that they return to their homes and risk further infection in the community.The British response to the Ebola crisis is facing serious criticism locally for its management, and has been called a “complete mess”, by aid workers in Sierra Leone.Questions have been raised about DFID's decision to hand the management of the new facility in Kerry Town, near the capital of Freetown, to the charity Save the Children.Sir Edward Garnier, a Conservative MP, said he was concerned about how few Ebola victims were being seen by the medics at Kerry Town.
"What strikes me is that this is not a good use of public money and it is not achieving its aims," he said. "The Connaught hospital in Freetown is overflowing and turning people away, back into the community, although they are infected with Ebola. This hospital has 92 beds, and they are almost all empty. It seems to be going very slowly."
DFID and Save The Children insisted that the plan had always been to scale up the new facility over time, despite the urgent demands by the World Health Organisation that there was an immediate response to the Ebola crisis.
The Kerry Town complex includes an 80 bed treatment centre and a 12 bed centre staffed by British Army medics specifically for health care workers and international staff responding to the Ebola crisis. However, dozens of beds are lying empty.
The construction of the treatment facility was overseen by British Army Royal Engineers.
The site also hosts an Ebola testing laboratory run by British scientists to accurately diagnose patients.
The £230 million Ebola response package from Britain includes funding for supplies such as chlorine and protective clothing, burial teams to increase capacity and work with communities on new burial practices. The roll out of community care centres is also planned.
"Britain is today providing 211 Ebola beds in facilities that the UK has built, expanded or kept open - including 23 beds rolled out so far at Kerry Town - and 232 beds and places in community care centres where Ebola sufferers are going for initial care and diagnosis,” said a DFID spokesman.
"Save The Children, a major global NGO which includes the international health charity Merlin, was available and keen to take on the management of Kerry Town at a time when other NGOs were stretched and unable to do so."
A spokesman for Save The Children said: In answer to questions about patients, I can confirm that as of this morning, 28 people have been treated for Ebola at the [centre]. This is a cumulative figure of those treated since opening."
I got nothing. There's no attempt to explain this, or make any sense of it, because it's simply insane.
But with 100 cases a day popping up in Sierra Leone, this should keep those burial teams busy well into the new year.