As a conference meets in London today to help coordinate international efforts against Ebola, the Abbott Government must say whether it will commit to supporting skilled, experienced Australians willing and able to fight the crisis in West Africa.
Today, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) reiterated that the Abbott Government is not doing enough to assist get the Ebola outbreak under control.
“…in the same way as we work with international partners in Syria at the moment, we can do absolutely the same thing with Americans, the British, and the other countries that are making similar arrangements – this is an international, in fact a global effort, and we need to play our part. Eight million dollars doesn’t cut it, and I certainly agree…that our call at the Security Council for international assistance here is in contrast to our deeds on this matter.”
AMA Vice-President, Dr Stephen Parnis, ABC Radio National, 2 October 2014
Labor supported the Government’s initial $8 million financial contribution to help tackle this crisis, and the further $10 million announced today. But the rapidly escalating situation demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to help fight the spread of Ebola.
The Abbott Government’s refusal to take this step comes despite Australia co-sponsoring a unanimous UN Security Council resolution calling on all nations to:
” …facilitate the delivery of assistance, including qualified, specialized and trained personnel and supplies, in response to the Ebola outbreak…”.
UNSC resolution 2177, 18 September 2014
The resolution was co-sponsored by a record 131 countries.
The United States and the UK have already committed medical teams to the region.
Government claims that Australia cannot care for medical personnel sent to West Africa ignore the fact around a dozen Australian volunteers are already on the ground there dealing with the Ebola crisis.
If required, the Australian Government should negotiate with our international partners to ensure appropriate standby management arrangements for any Australian personnel – as suggested by the AMA.
Failure to act now will have incredibly serious consequences.
Of the around 6,500 Ebola cases so far, more than 3,000 people have died. If we don’t do more, some predictions suggest the number of Ebola cases could reach 1.4 million by 2015.
If the international community pulls together, the Ebola outbreak may be possible to contain. But the window of opportunity is closing fast. That’s why Australia must significantly increase its efforts, immediately.