Australia must do more to fight Ebola: MSF-Australia

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Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (Doctors Without Borders) has today called on the Australian Government to go beyond pledging financial aid to fight Ebola and immediately respond with a deployment of specialised civil and military capacity to affected countries in West Africa.

Médecins Sans Frontières cannot accept any donation of funds from the Australian government. We have been asking countries, including Australia, to evaluate their emergency medical and logistics capacity and make a contribution beyond financial support for over two weeks now and we continue to urge them to do so.

“While Médecins Sans Frontières welcomes the Australian Government’s pledge of $7 million dollars contribution to assist with the global response to this international health emergency, we have told the Government that donating to organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières is not the best way for governments to meet the immediate needs. This money would be better spent providing capacity that Médecins Sans Frontières and other NGOs cannot supply,” said Paul McPhun, Executive Director of Médecins Sans Frontières Australia.

“It is unacceptable that as a single private NGO, Médecins Sans Frontières is providing the bulk of isolation units and beds. Our teams have been overwhelmed for some time now, and are forced to turn away patients that are highly infectious. What is needed is a massive increase in personnel, equipment and logistical support that Médecins Sans Frontières alone cannot supply,” he said.

“We welcome the ambition of the new US Ebola response plan, which is the first serious large scale international ambition to address the disaster unfolding in West Africa. This latest pledge must be matched by action from other countries, including Australia,” Paul McPhun said.

“Today, the response to Ebola continues to fall dangerously behind and too many lives are being lost. We need more countries to stand up, we need greater concrete action on the ground, and we need it now.

“If implemented swiftly, the deployment of new Ebola management centres, qualified staff and health personnel training could begin reversing the trend of the fight we have collectively been losing against Ebola,” Paul McPhun said.

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