Vital for all companies to be fully prepared for a pandemic crisis; An overview of the highly-successful Ebola & Pandemic Risk Management Workshop, London

Monday, 02 February, 2015


In the week where Dr. Jim Yong Kim, the President of the World Bank Group, stated that the world is "dangerously unprepared" for future deadly pandemics like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, global meetings organiser, IRN, hosted the inaugural Ebola & Pandemic Risk Management Workshop. The event, sponsored by SP Services was held on January 22nd 2015 at Prospero House in London, reflected on the lessons learned by the private sector from this Ebola outbreak.

IRN gathered a panel of outstanding experts to provide delegates with a holistic overview of pandemic risk management for corporations, with an emphasis on the ongoing Ebola pandemic.

This platform was the only meeting during the current Ebola outbreak to gather public sector, private sector, Governmental and NGO participants in one forum to discuss ways to manage this current serious risk and any others that may arise in the future.

The Workshop and Conference was opened by the Chairman Dr Jonathan O’Keeffe, Regional Medical Director of Medical Services for Northern Europe at International SOS, who hosted the Workshop. Delegates heard a thorough overview of the current pandemic, as well as an update on the IDRAM Initiative (Extractive Industries Infectious Disease Risk Assessment Management), a subject of great interest to the many extractive industry companies that were present. Amongst them were ArcelorMittal, Sierra Rutile, Société des Mines de Fer de Guinée, FMC Technologies, Newmont Mining, Schlumberger, Geoquip Marine UK, Tullow Oil and others.

The Ambassador of Guinea, as well as international companies from the food and beverage, manufacturing and infrastructure industries, also participated in the Forum. Three Workshops hosted by Control Risks and International SOS followed. These gave a solid understanding of best practices for Travel Risk Management, Ebola Response Planning, and Crisis Management Team Planning. The audience was encouraged to ask questions and share field experiences which resulted in very interactive and engaging sessions.

Delegates learnt of the vital role the Private sector can play in fighting a health crisis by learning about the work of the Ebola Private Sector Mobilization Group (EPSMG). This organisation represents over one hundred of the companies operating in Ebola affected regions and was convened to help the fight against this deadly virus. The presentation by Dr. Alan Knight, Group Head of CSR for ArcelorMittal, who also chaired this forum, pointed out that while commercial companies active in the region cannot provide medical expertise, they are logistical experts in the region and can offer their resources (such as motorbikes, phones, accommodation) and expertise to do their part in the fight against this crisis.

The wide-reaching stigma around a pandemic such as Ebola was addressed in this Forum - the presentation by the Group Health Manager from Tullow Oil, Sandra Neylon, discussed the various challenges they faced internally and for their employees in their personal life, in overcoming the fears around this virus, particularly in the early days. The presentation by the Workshop’s Charity Partner, Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders, whose employees are on the front line and can be the most at risk, shed light on how they, as an organisation, overcome this particular fear factor.

The one-day meeting, supported by the Business Council for Africa, also gave a clear vision of how much can be achieved when the traditional barriers between Governmental and private companies, NGO’s and medical services are broken down, and new avenues of communication and cooperation are established. The current Ebola pandemic is still a huge cause of concern but is coming under control. The risk of health crises is growing however, in an ever more connected world with a growing population. The expertise and planning required to manage such crisis are vital for all companies to be fully prepared for.

The exclusive Exhibitor Sponsor for the workshop were SP Services, the International supplier of first aid, medical, ambulance and paramedic and emergency rescue equipment, who showcased a full range of life-saving products, health protection kits, crisis ready supplies and PPE equipment. SP Services supply everything you need in an emergency for domestic, travel, work and emergency purposes from basic plasters and first aid kits through to isolation chambers, stretchers, evacuation equipment and life saving defibrillators. SP Services has been actively involved with the aid efforts in West Africa since mid 2014, working with a number of large companies, charities and NGO’s around the clock to delivery vital medical supplies and equipment to the brave men and women helping in the fight against Ebola.  For more information on SP or to shop visit

More information on the next editions of the Pandemic Risk Management Workshop this year are available at Documentation and presentations are available for purchase for those that did not attend.


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