In November, Sierra Leone was reporting 550 new cases of ebola every week. Today the number has slowed to seven new cases a week. Just a few weeks ago, the schools reopened. But there is still a long road ahead for Sierra Leone, and the brave women of West Africa who have already endured so much. I hope that next spring these tragic times will all be in the past, and Sierra Leone's future will once again look bright.
Speed is an important factor for any successful emergency response: Next time, to outsmart the virus, we need to act fast through quick deployment of equipment, specialists and field hospitals. Speed will play a critical role in writing a different story for the first hundred days - in Africa or elsewhere.
Anything that raises money for charity is great, and I am fully behind sending relief money to help the Ebola crisis that is happening in West Africa. Nevertheless, like many others, aspects of the new Band Aid 30 single make me feel uncomfortable with regards to its portrayal of West Africa and West Africans.
As media crews begin to arrive in West Africa, we are urging for there to be no repeat of the Michael Burke film. It was vital and needed at its time, but today, 30 years later, a very different part of the continent may need our help, but the bravery of its first responders also deserves our respect.
Ebola presents an unprecedented threat to Sierra Leone and other countries in West Africa, not just in terms of public health but also because of the outbreak's long-term social and economic impacts. The UK has taken the global lead in supporting the response and has committed significant resources. This recognises Britain's long standing links with Sierra Leone and ActionAid welcomes and fully supports this.
Aside from the clear humanitarian responsibilities of providing aid and support, a lack of a functioning health system in impoverished regions such as West Africa, will one day allow a more transmissible pathogen to run rampant, which would eventually see us having to step over corpses on our doorsteps. But for now, rest assured, we are not all careering towards a bloody, excrement covered date with our maker.
The US and UK have recently made the largest efforts in terms of military deployments and money but many other states are still neglecting their responsibilities. Justine Greening, the International Development Secretary, and David Cameron have noted that EU members such as Italy and Spain need to step forward with resources and act now.
Ideological positions and poor understandings have created a set of assumptions about development that are fundamentally challenged by the Ebola experience. Can this terrible crisis provide a moment for reframing development? Surely now is the time for a fundamental rethink of development approaches.