King's Team Receives Awards

Ebola in Sierra Leone Dr Oliver Johnson, Programme Director of King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, has received an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his services in the fight against Ebola. Will Pooley, a nurse who worked with the team for a period, has also received an MBE.

Dr Johnson has been leading a small team of clinicians and support staff in West Africa since January 2013. The team, made up in a large part by volunteers, was originally in Sierra Leone to help build and strengthen the local health system but has played a vital role in responding to Ebola since the virus first reached the country in May 2014.

They have provided a full clinical response to Ebola at Connaught Hospital in the capital Freetown.  Dr Johnson and his team worked closely with the Sierra Leone Government and local and international partners to increase the local capacity to identify and treat Ebola patients, provide essential clinical training, spread best practice quickly and, by helping set up an Ebola Command Centre in Freetown, manage the effective flow of patients across the city. Dr Johnson and colleagues also played an influential role advising the UK Government about the ongoing response.

Dr Johnson, says that: “I am humbled to receive this award, which I accept on behalf of all those I have worked with in Sierra Leone. Everything we achieved is due to the efforts of extraordinary local health workers and international volunteers, who have bravely led the fight against Ebola and did not hesitate to put their lives at risk to save others. They are the real heroes of the response, and I would like to dedicate this award to them, especially those friends and colleagues who lost their lives to the disease. We will continue to fight the virus until we have seen the last case, and to work with our local partners to rebuild and strengthen their health system in the coming years.”

The King’s Sierra Leone Partnership is an initiative of King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre, an innovative partnership between King’s College London and three of London’s leading NHS foundation trusts – Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley.

Professor Sir Robert Lechler, Executive Director of King’s Health Partners and Vice-Principal (Health) at King’s College London says that: “This award is a reflection of the outstanding dedication and leadership shown by Dr Johnson during the past year. I am incredibly proud of what Oliver and the team have achieved in responding to such a tragic disease outbreak.”

Dr Johnson and the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership team remain in Sierra Leone and continue to respond to the outbreak, working alongside local partners to restructure and stabilise the healthcare system, helping to protect against a crisis like this ever happening again.

(cross-posted from the King’s Health Partners website)