Getting to Zero: A Doctor and a Diplomat on the Ebola Frontline

Dr Oliver Johnson, Dr Sinead Walsh
Event date
Event time
17:30 - 19:00
Blavatnik School of Government
Radcliffe Observatory Quarter
Woodstock Road
Event type
Lectures and seminars
Event cost
Disabled access?
Booking required

In 2014, Oliver Johnson, a 28-year old British doctor found himself co-running the Ebola isolation unit in Sierra Leone’s main hospital after the doctor in charge had been killed by the virus. Completely overwhelmed and wrapped in stifling protective suits, he and his team took it in turns to provide care to patients while removing dead bodies from the ward. Against all odds he battled to keep the hospital open, as the queue of sick and dying patients grew every day.

Only a few miles down the road Dr Sinead Walsh, the Irish Ambassador and Head of Irish Aid, worked relentlessly to rapidly scale up the international response. At a time when entire districts had been quarantined, she travelled around the country, and met with UN agencies, the President and senior ministers so as to be better placed in alerting the world to the catastrophe unfolding in front of her.

In this event, they will talk about their book Getting to Zero, a blow-by-blow account that exposes the often shocking shortcomings of the humanitarian response to the outbreak, both locally and internationally, and call our attention to the immense courage of those who put their lives on the line every day to contain the disease. Informed by over eighty interviews and two hundred written reports, they draw out five key lessons for the future, which Dr Sinead Walsh is now applying first-hand in her new role as EU Ambassador to South Sudan, a country that neighbours the current DRC Ebola Outbreak.