AGI advisor Victoria Parkinson is to be awarded an OBE by the British Government in recognition of her work tackling the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. Victoria’s honour adds to a significant number of awards made to AGI staff for their work over the last eighteen months.
The award is the latest in a series of awards made to AGI staff for their work supporting the response to Ebola in West Africa. All British AGI staff working on the response in Liberia and Sierra Leone were granted the UK government’s Ebola medal. In addition four AGI staff have been awarded special Ebola medals by the Government of Sierra Leone.
Victoria began work in Sierra Leone in 2013 as an AGI private sector advisor to the government where she expected to work on improving the business environment. When Ebola began to spread throughout Sierra Leone in the summer of 2014 she was asked by her government counterparts if she could help coordinate a response which was growing rapidly out of control.
Victoria began her 18 month response career with the Western Area team who were managing the response for the 1.6m people in Freetown. She helped establish a Command Centre for the area around the capital and worked alongside the Sierra Leone leadership, British military and International Partners to build the systems for safe, dignified, burials and ambulance transfer to treatment – both essential for breaking the chain of transmission of Ebola.
By the summer of 2015, with the outbreak coming to an end in Freetown, Victoria was working at the National Ebola Response Centre where she acted as the Policy Advisor to the Directors supporting efforts to finish the ‘final mile’ of the response as case numbers moved towards zero.
OB Sisay, Director of the Situation Room at the National Ebola Response Centre, said:
“In the dark days, when Freetown was sinking, bodies in the streets, hospitals piled high with live and dead, AGI stayed and pushed on, working with us to build a command centre for Freetown that enabled us to take control of the outbreak. AGI’s work has saved countless lives in Sierra Leone”
Victoria Parkinson said:
“I never expected to receive any honours so to find out I am receiving two is incredible. The last eighteen months have brought the lowest lows and highest highs of my professional career and I am honoured to have worked with so many heroes during this dark time in Sierra Leones history. When I think back to the fear and panic we felt in the early days of the outbreak it’s an incredible relief to see it finally come to an end and to see Sierra Leone looking forward to the future again.”
With no current cases of Ebola in West Africa, our teams in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are now working alongside these governments on their priorities for post-Ebola recovery – especially returning to the strong economic growth that the countries were seeing before the outbreak.
AGI Chief Executive Nick Thompson said:
“I’m absolutely delighted to see Victoria honoured in this way, as well as other AGI team members who have received awards from the British and Sierra Leone Governments over the autumn. I’m incredibly proud of all them, and it’s a fantastic testament to their extraordinary work over the last 18 months.
I know that Vic would be the first to say too that the true heroes of the Ebola crisis are the many Sierra Leonean, Liberian and Guinean colleagues who put themselves on the front line in the battle against the disease. Many lost their lives, and we should remember them all.
Whilst we celebrate the end of the outbreak, it is also just as important that we all now re-double our efforts to support the recovery in West Africa and the day-to-day health “crises” we still see in maternal and child mortality, as thousands die from preventable causes.”