Australians risk their health to fight Ebola in Africa —要不要帮助别国？澳洲护士告诉你！
Before she departed for an Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone last month, Cairns registered nurse Sue-Ellen Kovack was asked why she had volunteered to travel half way around the world to help tackle the deadly outbreak.
“Why me? Well, if not me then who?” Ms Kovack told the ABC.
There was good news for Ms Kovack on Friday, as test results suggested she had not contracted the lethal virus, despite reporting a fever on her return to Australia this week.
But given the 21-day incubation period for the disease, further tests will be needed over the weekend to confirm she has not been infected.
Ms Kovack is one of dozens of Australians who have risked their own health to travel to West Africa to tackle the outbreak, which authorities warn has the potential to claim a million lives.
More than 20 Australians are either working in affected countries, are preparing to deploy or have returned from the region after working for just one organisation involved in the effort – Medecins Sans Frontieres, while more are working for other organisations.
Australian Medical Association president Brian Owler on Friday appealed for the government to do more to support the work of people like Ms Kovack.
“This is a humanitarian crisis that is really of unprecedented proportions,” Associate Professor Owler said. “We have had 4000 people die in West Africa… This is not something where we can stick our heads in the sand, it’s not something that we can ignore as a country. Because we need to do our bit to make sure that the global impacts of this crisis in West Africa are limited; not just in terms of the number of people affected, the humanitarian tragedy that’s unfolding, but also we know that it will have implications for this country unless we act.
“If we don’t act, it’s likely to become endemic – that is we may never be able to clear the virus from West Africa.”
Associate Professor Owler echoed calls by aid organisations for Australia to back its $18 million financial contribution with personnel and practical and logistical support.
He dismissed Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop’s justification for not sending personnel – that it was not possible to safely evacuate people from West Africa to Australia – arguing any workers who became ill could be treated in African facilities set up to treat international healthcare workers, or in Europe.
“Those problems are not insurmountable. And unless we have more of a global response, more of an increased effort in terms of putting feet on the ground, logistics, and the sort of skills and expertise that doctors and nurses from Australia have, we are going to see this crisis in West Africa to continue to spiral out of control,” he said.
The United States, Britain, China and Cuba are among the nations who are sending personnel to help tackle the outbreak.
Greens Senator Richard Di Natale said Australia had been “missing in action” in response to the Ebola crisis, contrasting Australia’s “appalling” reaction to the outbreak with its willingness to commit military resources to the fight against Islamic radicals in Iraq.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said this week a few rich countries were providing most of the money and doing most of the work, and the load needed to be shared more evenly.
Mr Kerry said more countries needed to provide resources such as mobile laboratories, treatment units, medivac capacity as well as non-medical support such as telecommunications and generators.
The US has provided the single largest contribution to United Nations efforts to tackle the disease, at $130 million. The European Union has contributed $63 million, Canada $36 million, the Netherlands $24 million and India $14 million.
ChildFund Australia chief executive Nigel Spence, whose organisation is supporting children affected by the outbreak, said the financial contributions by governments would need to increase to bring the outbreak under control.