Prime Minister Tony Abbott today announced the government would commit another $24 million to help fight Ebola in West Africa.
Up to $20 million will be set aside to help staff a 100-bed medical centre in Sierra Leone over the next eight months.
The medical centre will be run by volunteers but the individuals are not being sent by the government, rather it will be relying on Australian medical company Aspen to decide who should staff the Sierra Leone centre.
Abbott said about 240 staff are needed to run the centre. Some could be on the ground “within days”.
“There will be some international staff and some of those are likely to include Australian paid volunteers,” Abbott said.
The government has said it would not deploy Australians to Ebola-affected countries without a credible plan for their treatment or medical evacuation
However, authorities in the UK have provided an assurance they will treat Australians who may contract the disease as if they were British citizens.
“The last thing anyone would want to do is have personnel going to Africa, coming back to Australia and acting as carriers for this horrible disease,” Abbott said.
There will be a further $2 million allocated to enhance regional preparedness, dealing with the virus in countries close to Australia including Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and Pacific Island nations.
Today’s financial commitment takes the Australian government’s total contribution to fight Ebola to $42 million.
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