06 November 2014

Australia to fund Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone

Responding to pressure from the United States, Australia will fund an Ebola treatment clinic in Sierra Leone, according to Prime Minister Tony Abbott.


Australia will fund an Ebola treatment clinic in Sierra Leone, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Wednesday, responding to pressure from the United States and others to do more to tackle the deadly outbreak at its West African source.

Widespread criticism

Australia last week became the first rich nation to issue a blanket ban on visas from the three most Ebola-affected countries – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia – sparking widespread criticism.

Australia will provide A$20 million ($17.5 million) to staff a 100-bed treatment centre that will be built by Britain and run by Aspen Medical, a private Australian company.

"We anticipate about 240 staff required to do the job," Abbott told reporters in Sydney. "Most of them will be locally engaged. Some will be international and it's quite possible, even likely, that some will be Australian."

Read: German doctors cure Ebola patient with heart drugs

Australia had already committed around A$18 million to fight the outbreak of the virus, but had been called on by U.S. President Barack Obama, opposition lawmakers and medical bodies such as Doctors Without Borders to do more.

Abbott's government had raised concerns that any medical staff infected with the disease would not have access to treatment and would face a dangerous 30-hour evacuation flight home. Britain had given assurances that any Australian staff infected with Ebola would be treated as if they were a British citizen, Abbott said.

Contact with bodily fluids

Ebola can take as long as three weeks before its victims show symptoms, at which point the disease becomes contagious. Ebola, which can cause fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, spreads through contact with bodily fluids such as blood or saliva.

Read: Could Ebola hit SA?

World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim on Tuesday criticised Asian countries for not contributing enough to the global effort to fight Ebola, despite having a wealth of trained medical personnel.

"Many countries in Asia who could help simply are not, especially when it comes to sending health workers," Kim told a news conference in Seoul.

The World Health Organisation says the outbreak, the most deadly on record, has killed some 5,000 people. No cases have been diagnosed in Australia, although there have been a number of scares. ($1 = A$1.14)

Read more:

Ebola researchers can't get access to virus samples
Still many 'unknowns' about Ebola transmission
Inhaled Ebola vaccine protects monkeys

Image: Ebola sign from Shutterstock




Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Contraceptives and you »

Scientists create new contraceptive from seaweed Poor long-term birth control training leads to 'accidents'

7 birth control myths you should stop believing

Will the Pill make you gain weight? Can you fall pregnant while breastfeeding? We bust seven common myths about birth control.

Your digestive health »

Causes of digestive disorders 9 habits that could hurt your digestive system

Your tummy rumblings might help diagnose bowel disorder

With the assistance of an 'acoustic belt', doctors can now determine the cause of your tummy troubles.