Dr W G James (DA) to ask the Minister of Health:
Whether his department set up a 40-bed mobile hospital in Sierra Leone to diagnose and
treat patients during the Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa in 2014; if not, why not; if
so, (a) what was the total cost of operating the specified hospital, (b) how long did the
specified hospital operate and (c) how many (i) nurses, (ii) nursing assistants, (iii)
doctors, (iv) support staff and (v) epidemiologists were sent to West Africa;
whether his department received any support from the private sector with regard to its
efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what
are the relevant details of each specified contribution from the private sector;
did South Africa send any additional (a) personnel, (b) equipment and (c) infrastructure to
West Africa since 1 December 2013; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details in
each case;
(a) which government departments were involved in the efforts to fight Ebola, (b) which
entity co-ordinated the specified effort and (c) how were the support personnel and/or
equipment transported to West Africa;
what was the total monetary value of the country’s contribution in the fight against the
Ebola epidemic since 1 December 2013?
No 40-bed mobile hospital was set up in Sierra Leone by the Department as there were
sufficient Ebola treatment units put in place by other countries and the subsequent
request by the Government of Sierra Leone, the African Union and other partner
countries was for health professionals to staff the Ebola treatment units. The Department
sent 5 professional nurses and 1 medical doctor for 1 month initially and 16 professional
nurses and 3 emergency health professionals for 6 months to Sierra Leone under the
African Union response to the Ebola outbreak.
The Department had considerable support from the private sector in South Africa with
initial meetings with the mining, retail, financial services and mobile communication
sectors about the movement of their personnel from South Africa to West Africa and
especially to the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. A meeting held
at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange 16 listed companies and non-governmental
organisations realised cash and in-kind donations of personal protective equipment,
ambulances, scooters, food and drugs amounting to approximately R10 million for the
external response to the affected countries.
South Africa set up a field Ebola Molecular Diagnostic Facility in August 2014 with
laboratory infrastructure, technical and personnel support from the National Institute of
Communicable Diseases (NICD) in Freetown, Sierra Leone. A total of 8 teams of 2 to 5
members from the NICD rotated through the facility in Sierra Leone every 4 to 6 weeks
between August 2014 and March 2015. The unit assisted with the laboratory diagnosis of
Ebola in patient blood and buccal swab specimens.
The Department convened a committee known as the Multi-sectoral National
Outbreak Response Team (MNORT) which comprised the following departments,
supported by the private health sector, development partners and multilateral
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries;
Department of Basic Education;
Department of Communications;
Department of Correctional Services;
Department of Defence and Military Veterans;
Department of Finance;
Department of Higher Education and Training;
Department of Home Affairs;
Department of International Relations and Cooperation;
Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs;
Department of Safety and Security;
Department of Social Development;
Department of Sport and Recreation;
Department of Tourism;
Department of Transport;
Department of Water and Sanitation.
The University of the Witwatersrand ‘Wits Health Consortium’ coordinated the
external response effort of receiving goods and cash donations to the affected
countries with the deployment of health professionals to Sierra Leone, supported
by “Right to Care”, the African Union and the World Health Organisation. The
laboratory professionals’ travel and logistics were coordinated by the Wits Health
Consortium, the NICD and the World Health Organisation.
The flights of all the personnel from South Africa to Ghana were supported by a
major South African private sector financial services partner and travel agency
with flights from Ghana to Sierra Leone supported by the United Nations response.
The donated goods were transported by road to Durban from the warehouse in
Centurion and shipped to the 3 affected countries through a partnership with a
major international shipping company that provided free transportation from
The total monetary value of the country’s contribution in the fight against the Ebola
epidemic since 1 December 2013 cannot be quantified as it comprises the domestic
response which covered provincial departments of health and national departments’
These included border protection interventions such as installation of thermal scanners at
designated ports of entry into South Africa, recruitment and deployment of additional Port
Health Officers and introduction of screening questionnaires at ports of entry, training of
immigration, airline and port health staff in South Africa and also for SADC countries,
health professionals and support personnel in the management of Ebola suspect and
infected patients and bio-hazardous waste management, provision of an Emergency
Operations Response Centre operating on a 24-hour basis, enhancing health screening
and surveillance systems and laboratory diagnostic support for South Africa and the
SADC Region. The external response to the affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and
Sierra Leone comprised the donation of personal protection equipment by the
Department and donation of other goods by the private sector and provision of laboratory
support and deployment of health professionals in Sierra Leone. Some South African
companies contributed to the Ebola response by direct contributions to the African Union
response or to the affected countries directly.
In addition, various Committees such as the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Ebola, the
Multi-sectoral National Outbreak Response Team (MNORT) and the Ministerial Advisory
Committee on Ebola outbreak in West Africa were set up to support the country’s efforts
in the domestic and external response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
Communication to the public, various stakeholders and role players was maintained at all
times through media releases presentations.