Biomedical scientists awarded Queen’s Ebola Medal for life-saving work in Sierra Leone

Seven biomedical scientists from Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust have been awarded the Queen’s Ebola Medal for their life-saving work in the Ebola stricken country of Sierra Leone.

The seven, who work in the Trust’s infection and immunity department, worked at Ebola Treatment Centres across Sierra Leone at different times over a period of several months, helping to test blood samples for Ebola. Their work helped to significantly reduce the time it took to turnaround blood tests from five days to less than 24 hours. This allowed much quicker diagnosis, treatment and isolation of sufferers, helping to slow the spread of the disease.

The team members also travelled to remote locations across the country to train and educate local healthcare professionals on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique which is used to diagnose Ebola.

Ray Ofori (55), Maxwell Al-Hassan (44), Lisa Simonds, Nita Fatania (52), David Anti (45), Liliana Carvalho and Victoria Heath (27) were presented their medals by Trust chief executive, Dr Tracey Batten.

Vicki Heath, one of the biomedical scientists awarded the medal said:

“I have always volunteered during my spare time and when I saw that the UK Government was looking for people with my exact skill set to help with the Ebola crisis I was really keen to go out and help.

“My time in Sierra Leone was hard work in very hot and challenging conditions. Nevertheless, I found the whole experience very fulfilling and I am pleased to have been able to play a part in overcoming such a deadly disease. It is a real honour to have been recognised in this way.”

Dr Tracey Batten, chief executive at the Trust said:

“I am proud of the role our staff played in tackling Ebola in Sierra Leone. Using their NHS experience, they selflessly took on a potentially life threatening challenge to help those in great need, and ultimately help to defeat the spread of Ebola.

“I am delighted to be able to present Queen’s Ebola Medal to all of them for their life-saving work.”

The Queen’s Ebola Medal is awarded to recognise individuals supporting Her Majesty’s Government’s efforts in West Africa to reduce and eradicate the spread of Ebola.