Will Pooley, the UK nurse that survived ebola, has described the Band Aid 30 single is “cringeworthy” and “culturally ignorant”.
Mr Pooley, who is now back volunteering in Sierra Leone, told the Radio Times that he and his fellow relief workers considered the lyrics of the fundraising single to be “a bit much”.
“It’s Africa, not another planet. That sort of cultural ignorance is a bit cringeworthy”
The reworked version of Bob Geldof’s Do They Know It’s Christmas? has become the fastest selling single of 2014, and marks 30 years since the original was put together to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.
Mr Pooley, who made a full recovery from ebola after being treated in London with the experimental drug ZMapp, said he heard the first half of the song on the way to work in West Africa.
“It’s definitely being talked about here among my colleagues,” he said in the Christmas edition of Radio Times.
“But stuff about ‘Do they know it’s Christmas’ – it’s just like, actually people live normal lives here and do normal things,” he told the magazine.
“It’s Africa, not another planet,” he said. “That sort of cultural ignorance is a bit cringeworthy. There’s a lyric about ‘death in every tear’. It’s just a bit much.”
In stark contrast to the rhetorical question asked by the song, Mr Pooley said the majority Muslim population in Sierra Leone’s capital would mark Christmas because all religious holidays were celebrated by everyone in Sierra Leone.
“Muslims will celebrate Christmas here,” he said. “This year will be a bit subdued, obviously.”
Mr Pooley, who is volunteering with the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership, urged people to give money to charities “that are setting up treatment centres, that have isolation units and are working directly with patient care”.
“This is a global issue and I am proud of my colleagues who have volunteered and want to encourage others to do so”
Meanwhile, a further 25 NHS staff from across the UK are deploying to Sierra Leone to join Britain’s fight against Ebola, the government announced in a statement at the end of last week.
The volunteers, who departed on 6 December, are the second group to be deployed and will join an initial cohort of more than 30 NHS staff who arrived in Sierra Leone on 23 November.
Among their number is Hannah McReynolds, a staff nurse from Leicester. She said: “I feel privileged to have been selected to be part of this team. The support and team work is already evident.
“This is a global issue and I am proud of my colleagues who have volunteered and want to encourage others to do so.”
The UK government has pledged to open six ebola treatment centres, providing more than 700 beds.