International SOS continues to advise clients during “unprecedented” Ebola outbreak

16 September 2014


• 81% of calls to International SOS on Ebola came in July / August
• Nigeria most discussed country in relation to Ebola
• Ebola planning and training services are available

International SOS continues to provide expert advice to client organisations during the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

This outbreak is unprecedented in its magnitude, multi-country spread, and impact on health services and economies.

The World Health Organisation estimates that it will be at least six months before the outbreak is controlled, and in some areas traditional methods may not be enough to curb its spread.

Calls to International SOS for information and medical advice on Ebola peaked in July and August – 81% of the calls on the outbreak this year were received in those two months.

• The requests come from client organisations and/or their members travelling overseas or living and working as expatriates
• Nigeria is the country most often discussed during calls on the outbreak
• Liberia comes next, followed by Sierra Leone and then Guinea

Dr Irene Lai, Medical Director at International SOS said:

“The situation is rapidly and constantly changing, bringing new challenges. It is important that organisations understand and assess the current and potential risks for their staff and operations, not only in affected countries but globally too.

The longer the outbreak continues to grow, the greater the risk of spread to other areas. We have not yet seen the peak of the epidemic.”

International SOS and evacuations

On Sunday 14 September, a medical team from International SOS evacuated two Dutch doctors with possible exposure to the Ebola virus from Sierra Leone. 
They were transported from a remote location and then flown by an International SOS air ambulance from Freetown to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. International SOS would like to thank the Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Health for their collaboration during this complex operation.

International SOS is highly experienced in evacuating patients with infectious diseases, having safely and successfully evacuated patients with diseases such as meningitis, MDR and XDR tuberculosis and Lassa fever over many years.

Nevertheless, international evacuation of patients with Ebola or other Viral Haemorrhagic Fevers is highly complex, and may not always be achievable. The outbreak has also presented new challenges impacting air ambulance evacuation of patients with non-Ebola related illnesses from Ebola affected countries.

Any requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Members can call any International SOS Assistance Centre for further information.

Free educational resources and information are available at

Ebola awareness course and planning

In support of requests from clients, International SOS is providing the following services:

Ebola planning

Organisations may be concerned about, or affected by, the Ebola epidemic in different ways. Some may have operations in countries neighbouring the outbreak. Others may have travellers visiting affected countries and will have concerns about the risk of Ebola infection. International SOS can help organisations plan a response to the challenges of Ebola.

Ebola Awareness Course

Our new classroom and virtual classroom courses are presented by either an International SOS doctor or nurse. They are primarily designed for non-medical people who would like an introduction to the Ebola virus. Participants will learn about the disease in clear, understandable language without medical jargon. The courses will cover how Ebola is transmitted, details on the current outbreak in Africa and will provide an understanding of the basic prevention steps that need to be taken.