OREANDA-NEWS  International Development Secretary Priti Patel has visited Sierra Leone to see first-hand how the UK is building upon its leadership during the Ebola crisis by helping the country to develop resilient health systems, improve education and increase access to water and electricity.

The visit took place during the first anniversary of the end of the Ebola outbreak and Ms Patel joined survivors and community activists at Port Loko district hospital for a national three minute silence.

Together they honoured the bravery of the thousands of Sierra Leoneans who fought Ebola and remembered all those who sadly lost their lives during the outbreak.

The survivors and activists also explained their experiences of the Ebola crisis and shared their hopes for the future with the International Development Secretary.

The UK led the international response to the country’s Ebola crisis and has committed to supporting the President’s recovery priorities through a 2 year £240 million programme. The programme is helping to improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans, including building resilient health systems, improving education and increasing access to water and electricity.

During her visit Ms Patel called on His Excellency President Koroma at Sierra Leone’s State House, to discuss the continuing partnership between the UK and Sierra Leone.

I’ve been truly humbled by the strength and resilience of the Sierra Leonean people as they look to the future while recovering from the devastating effects of Ebola.

In Freetown and Port Loko I saw how UK aid saved lives during the outbreak and is now helping to rebuild the country. Our partnership will ensure Sierra Leone emerges stronger from the disaster by creating a more effective and robust health system.

Global Britain is leading the way to ensure that Sierra Leone - and the world - is better equipped to quickly and effectively tackle future health emergencies at source. This is firmly in all our interests.

UK aid is also helping people across the country, especially girls and women, to access economic opportunities and education. This is crucial for sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.‎

While in Port Loko Ms Patel talked to the head boy and girl of a school in Maforki about how new classrooms funded by UK aid will ease overcrowding and ensure they can continue their education. The UK will improve the quality of education for 1.4 million children in Sierra Leone over the next 5 years.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel talks with a midwife at the New Maforki clinic in Port Loko.
International Development Secretary Priti Patel talks with a midwife at the New Maforki clinic in Port Loko.

During a visit to a primary health facility at nearby New Maforki Ms Patel discussed with nurses and midwives how UK support is helping to reduce very high levels of maternal and infant deaths. This partnership with the Sierra Leonean government will see 60,000 additional people have access to family planning services.