Oxfam Australia and Save the Children has welcomed news of the imminent deployment of Australian health workers by medical company Aspen Medical to Sierra Leone to assist with the treatment of Ebola patients.
The Australian Government announced up to $20 million in funding for Aspen Medical to run a 100-bed Ebola treatment clinic in Sierra Leone in early November.
Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia Dr Helen Szoke said that with the number of cases in the country since the start of the outbreak now numbering more than 6500, with more than 1300 fatalities, the situation was desperate.
“The news of the imminent deployment of Australian health workers is a welcome update, particularly given the UN’s announcement that it is not going to meet its containment deadline of December 1,” Dr Szoke said.
“Given the challenge being faced to bring the virus under control in Sierra Leone, it is vital that these life-saving human resources are delivered as soon as possible.
“We urge the Australian Government to continue to monitor the situation and remain open to sending additional personnel, including AUSMAT and logistical support.”
Oxfam is helping prevent the spread of Ebola both by working with communities to prevent further infections and supporting medical facilities with water, sanitation, cleaning equipment and protective clothing.
So far Oxfam’s preventative work has directly reached over 860,000 people in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Save the Children has also welcomed Australia’s latest contribution in the fight against Ebola, with the announcement today that seventeen Australian health workers will depart for West Africa to train and prepare to provide clinical care in an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.
Save the Children CEO Paul Ronalds said: “It is fantastic to see Australian health experts heading to join the urgent fight against this deadly disease. These Australian staff together with the upcoming Australian Ebola Treatment Centre will help increase the chances of survival for children and adults infected with Ebola. Australia’s efforts on Ebola will also help to protect the wider community from further infection, including thousands of children, and are to be commended.”
Save the Children has repeatedly called for urgent international action on Ebola, including the deployment of foreign medical teams to help run Ebola Treatment Units being set up to diagnose and treat Ebola patients and help stop the spread of the deadly disease.
The children’s agency has sent medics, health professionals and other specialists to West Africa with more on the way – including from Australia – to support staff on the ground, who are leading the frontline response to Ebola.
Save the Children is also training health workers, who in turn are teaching tens of thousands of people in communities about how to limit the risks to themselves and their families, distributing protective kits and providing much needed medical equipment to hospitals, while also providing ongoing care and support to children affected by Ebola.
The deployment of Australian health workers forms part of Australia’s $42 million contribution to the Ebola response in West Africa announced by the Prime Minister earlier this month.