The Government of Canada will give a group commendation to Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada and present the Governor General Meritorious Service Cross Award to the International President of MSF, Canadian physician Joanne Liu, in recognition of the medical humanitarian organization’s extraordinary efforts during the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The award ceremony will take place in Ottawa on June 23, 2017.
From March 2014, when an Ebola outbreak was first confirmed in Guinea, to the end of the outbreak in West Africa in January 2016 MSF sent 68 medical and non-medical aid workers from across Canada to the frontlines of the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia. Some of them returned to West Africa several times. MSF worked closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada at federal and provincial levels to facilitate the safe return of our staff to Canada and gave Canadian health authorities and hospitals training and advice on Ebola-related issues. Through public events and media outreach, MSF helped reduce stigma and fear and inform the Canadian public about the causes and symptoms of the disease.
In her role as international president of MSF, Dr. Joanne Liu alerted the international community to the unprecedented scale of the outbreak, urging it to increase its support for the affected West African countries. In September 2014 Dr. Liu briefed the United Nations in New York, calling for more support from UN member states. Large-scale international assistance was finally deployed to the Ebola-affected countries towards the end of 2014.
The scale of MSF’s response to the Ebola outbreak was unprecedented. At its peak, the organization employed nearly 4,000 local and over 325 international staff to combat the epidemic across the three countries. 14 MSF staff lost their lives during the epidemic. MSF set up and managed 15 Ebola management and transit centres in West Africa, admitting more than 10,000 patients. To scale up the response capacity, MSF also provided Ebola management training to thousands of people from within MSF, as well as from national governments, the United Nations and from other nongovernmental organizations.