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Great Britain

Ebola crisis: WHO declares international health emergency - ‘World must take notice’

It comes after former Tory leadership candidate Rory Stewart demanded Britain send more money to DR Congo to help tackle the Ebola crisis. Mr Stewart, who dropped out of the Tory leadership race when he failed to get enough backing in the early stages, said the UK must “get serious” about the growing threat of Ebola - before the World Health Organisation (WHO) today declared the outbreak an international public health emergency. The International Development Secretary said he has just returned from the Ebola-struck region of Beni and Butembo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and answered questions from fellow Tory MP James Duddridge on what lessons had been learnt “to help countries become more resistant to Ebola particularly in the health sector”.

Mr Stewart said: “There is an Ebola outbreak now in Congo that has already crossed the border to Uganda.

“We had an outbreak in Goma (DRC) a city of two million people on Sunday.

“If we do not get this under control this, which is already the second biggest Ebola outbreak in history, will cause devastating problems for the region.

“We must invest much more in the World Health Organisation (WHO), in developing the public health services in the neighbouring countries and above all step up to the challenge and be serious as a nation about this deadly disease.”

The WHO today declared the Ebola crisis is a public health emergency after 1,600 have died since the start of a new outbreak.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “It is time for the world to take notice and redouble our efforts. We need to work together in solidarity with the DRC to end this outbreak and build a better health system.”

In what could be his last Commons appearance in his current role, Mr Stewart made a bid to increase the number of British civil servants working overseas on development.

He said: “The central challenge in international development going forward is going to be the quality, the expertise and the number our permanent staff on the ground.

“As international development becomes more complex, with conflict and climate, as we have to work closely with other Government departments, and above all in a world in which countries are looking not for money but for expertise, what we will have to do over the next 15 years is increase the expertise, increase the quality, but above all the number of civil servants moving away from short-term consultants to having British experts on the ground.”

Mr Stewart’s criticisms come as health chief’s admitted that Ebola’s first victim in the Congo’s largest city managed to slip through three virus checkpoints.

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