Helping Sierra Leone Fight Ebola

DTRA played an important role in the DoD’s response to the West African Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in 2014-2015.  Specifically, our One Team coordinated three major lines of effort:  (1) immediate biosafety, biosecurity, and biosurveillance support in the field; (2) medical countermeasures support; and (3) operational support through modeling, analysis, and knowledge management.

Today, we remain significantly engaged in the region, working with international, interagency, and contractor partners to build national and regional capability to handle any future outbreaks of EVD or other disease of security concern.  As part of those ongoing efforts, DTRA has  been working in Sierra Leone to train staff to independently operate the transportable high-containment laboratory provided in early 2015 to test clinical samples for the Ebola virus.  The laboratory stemmed the spread of the virus by increasing the country’s overall sample throughput, reducing wait times for results, and increasing the reliability of those results.

In preparation for transition of the laboratory to Sierra Leone’s ownership, we recently conducted a Full Operational Demonstration to test the readiness of the staff to operate the facility on their own.  The students commanded an impressive knowledge of laboratory operations and demonstrated enormous gratitude for DTRA’s impact during and after the Ebola outbreak.