Wahroonga, New South Wales
As the unprecedented Ebola outbreak in West Africa worsens, leaders of Australian humanitarian agencies, including the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Australia have issued a joint call to action for the Australian government.
Should global efforts at this stage fail to increase in both pace and effort, the long-term consequences in West Africa and beyond will be catastrophic.
“The world is fast approaching a point of no return in halting the spread of Ebola. Current estimates indicate that we could see 10,000 deaths per week by mid-December. Should global efforts at this stage fail to increase in both pace and effort, the long-term consequences in West Africa and beyond will be catastrophic,” said Marc Purcell, Executive director of Australian Council For International Development (ACFID).
“The Australian Government can play an essential role in averting a further escalation of this global public health crisis. We welcome the government’s $A18 million contribution, and acknowledge that Australia has been one of the quickest countries to disburse funds. Rapid funding allows UN agencies and NGOs to immediately get on with the work required to halt the spread of this disease.”
While, bilateral negotiations are currently underway to secure the appropriate arrangements required to deploy Australian personnel, including formal medical treatment and evacuation arrangements, the agencies are urging the government to accelerate these negotiations with key partner countries and support the deployment of appropriate personnel when formal agreements are reached.
The agencies have also outlined a number of ways Australia can scale up its response to the crisis. These include:
An immediate increase in support for programs raising awareness in communities about how to prevent and contain the spread of Ebola.
Supporting Infection Prevention and Control Training for health workers, plus the provision of basic protective equipment.
Contributing to preparedness and contingency planning in the west-african region to strengthen the ability of neighbouring countries to respond.
“ADRA continues to be active on the front-line of both prevention and treatment of Ebola in Liberia and Sierra Leone,” said ADRA Australia CEO Mark Webster. “Australian NGOs will reach over 8.5 million affected people but we are facing an unprecedented situation that aid agencies alone cannot contain—governments like Australia can make a critical contribution.”
“The international community still has the opportunity to turn this crisis around in the next few weeks, but this requires a significant and immediate increase in human, material and financial capacity.”