The UK is one of the leading humanitarian donors in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have acted quickly to support the country and the World Health Organisation in tackling the Ebola outbreak; the Secretary of State today announced an extra £5 million to support the WHO response plan.
What are the Government doing to prevent the outbreak from spreading to places such as Kinshasa?
The plan announced by the World Health Organisation involves making sure that we use a new, experimental vaccine that the UK has helped to develop. It is being applied to anyone who has come into contact with Ebola. Yesterday vaccinations began to be offered to health workers and to anyone who has had contact with a contact.
I commend the Department’s response to the outbreak, but what assurance can the Minister give that the capacity and leadership at the WHO are stronger than they were in 2014, when it made so many mistakes in responding to an earlier outbreak?
I pay tribute to Jane Ellison, who is now very much involved in that. As my right hon. Friend will know, there has been an extensive programme of work to learn lessons from the outbreak in Sierra Leone, and, indeed, this is the ninth outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. On every occasion lessons are learnt, and we are helping the WHO and the Government to deliver on them.
In the light of the DRC Government’s decision to boycott the April humanitarian pledging conference in Geneva and to deny the scale of the displacement crisis in the country, what representations has the Secretary of State made, now that Ebola poses a very real additional threat, to ensure that the same does not happen again, and that the DRC Government accept urgent assistance to prevent an international health emergency?
The hon. Lady is right to highlight the wider humanitarian crisis in the DRC. I was there myself last month to see the fantastic work that UK aid workers are doing on the ground, and the extensive way in which we are helping. We are proud to have announced £100 million of support for this year, and we are the second largest donor.