The Ebola crisis is no longer just a humanitarian crisis for West Africa – it now poses a direct threat to world economic growth and if not contained, will spread to other countries.
Failure to act now will have serious consequences and this week’s first Ebola case in the US shows that even countries with the most highly developed health and border protection are no longer immune.
As infectious diseases expert Dr Alexander van Tulleken today made clear:
“The only way to prevent this happening again is to roll back this disease in West Africa otherwise it’s not just going to be happening here, it’s going to be happening all over the world.”
Dr Alexander van Tulleken – ABC AM, 3 October 2014
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagard has also bluntly warned of the economic and security consequences of failing to tackle the Ebola outbreak now.
“The development of the Ebola virus. if it is not contained, if all the players that talk about it don’t actually do something about it to try to stop it, contain it and help those three countries deal with it, it might develop into something that would be a very serious concern and could cause significant risks.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagard – Washington DC Speech, 2 October 2014
That is why Labor has now for over a week been warning that the rapidly escalating situation demands Australia go further and support specialised personnel who wish to help fight the spread of Ebola.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott must act on the letter he has received from Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma which declares his country is counting on Australia.
"While we are doing everything possible to stop the outbreak, further support is urgently needed from your friendly government to scale up our national response with … education efforts, as well as infection control measures," the letter says.
Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma – Letter to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, October 2014
Australia must put into action the unanimous UN Security Council resolution we co-sponsored 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
That resolution was co-sponsored by a record 131 countries.
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.