Ebola: should we go?

The Federal Government has finally announced assistance for Ebola-infected areas.

Yesterday Health Minister Peter Dutton announced that Australia would fund a private company to establish a 100-bed hospital to fight Ebola in Sierra Leone.

The Federal Government has appointed Aspen Medical, a private local company, to manage the establishment of a $20 million, 100-bed hospital in Sierra Leone. The contract is for six months after which time it will be reviewed. Speaking on ABC Radio National this morning, the chief executive of Aspen Medical, Glenn Keys, estimated that, of the 240 medical and technical staff, just 10-20 per cent would be recruited from Australia. Should any of the staff contract the virus, they will be evacuated to Britain or Europe, not Australia.

Listen to Glenn Keys outline Aspen Medical’s contract on Radio National.


Opinion: Better late than never

Having delayed a response to the requests for Australian input to the global efforts to delay the spread of Ebola, we now have a solution – of sorts.

Yesterday we heard that the Federal Government has appointed private operators to manage our contribution to the efforts to contain the spread of Ebola, which has claimed more than 6000 lives to date. Initially the government claimed that we could not assist the many other nations, including China, the USA and most European countries, as we are so far away, it was too difficult to evacuate any medical staff who became infected. So this is a solution, of sorts. It is certainly better than doing nothing, as this deadly disease poses a threat far greater than the so-called Islamic State conflict in the Middle East. But the appointment of a private company to manage our response – and be responsible for the safety of all personnel – seems to be evidence that our government wants a ‘hands-off’ approach to this global health crisis. The company concerned does seem to have strong experience in the field, with a clinic in Liberia and previous work in the Solomon Islands and Timor. But private enterprise should not be wholly responsible for our activities in the world health arena. A partnership would have made much more sense. 

What do you think? Do you endorse our engagement on the ground in West Africa? And if so, are you supportive of a contract with a private company or would your prefer more government ‘ownership’ of this problem?





    COMMENTS

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    Young
    6th Nov 2014
    10:54am
    Great news.
    And it was not a rushed decision.
    No need to become another pink batt or school hall fiasco.
    It was done slowly and carefully.
    particolor
    6th Nov 2014
    1:37pm
    I'm sure some of You people ATE a Pink Bat !! Give it a Rest !!
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    4:06pm
    I don't think the relatives want people to give it a sweep under the carpet.
    Billy, you quite rightly point out the record of the previous government when it comes to protecting the lives of Australians. I know who I would trust!!
    Kato
    6th Nov 2014
    5:08pm
    Mmm slowly and carefully' just the way they think and operate.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    9:16pm
    I think the compensation bill from home installation was $60m. It gives us an idea of the size of the problem labor created by playing knee jerk politics.
    dougie
    6th Nov 2014
    11:38am
    And I say again this is where we should be in our assistance to these countries. Sure it is a terrible disease and will cause many deaths, however not nearly as many as Malaria does in those same countries. Do we rush to cure malaria as we are urged to do to cure Ebola? There is work going on to provide for cure and or immunisation for this disease as it affects the entire world. Now that Ebola has become a threat to western countries note how quickly that they will come up with treatment or immunisation.
    Does this not say something about the United Nations and the large drug companies, does it say that now there is a possibility of making squillions from some type of treatment that a miracle cure will quickly evolve? Of course it does! So why is Australia one of the first called upon to assist ? Why should we be the first to assist? Sure we are a humane society in a humane country and will assist when we can, but not always first and certainly only after our volunteers can be assured of maximum safety whilst in the zone of trouble.
    Kato
    6th Nov 2014
    5:10pm
    Dougie it is called being the new boys on the block. The UN is going to milk Australia for everything they can.
    dougie
    6th Nov 2014
    6:46pm
    Kato,

    Only if we allow this to happen, so far Tony Abbott seems to be ahead.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    7:03pm
    I like Abbotts no nonsense approach.
    When Kevin Rudd said you cannot stop the boats without having a war with Indonesia, Abbott said we will turn them back!
    When Putin refused to assist during the MH17 tragedy, Abbott said I will shirt front him.
    Finally we have a PM who is not afraid to stand up for Australia!!
    True leaders say follow me.
    Judy in the hills
    6th Nov 2014
    11:50am
    No doubt about it, whatever Tony Abbott does - some people would never be satisfied. He is a CAREFUL man who does not leap into things without thinking fairly deeply about the pluses and minus points. This decision now seems to be the best: he's taken into account the poor people with the horrible complaint, but has also made sure that his Australian volunteers are to get the most sensible and practical care known at this stage. A horrible, horrible complaint - lets hope they can wipe it out soon.

    I think the United Nations does a lot of talking but not too much action. As for the drug companies, they are there to make a profit - their first thought.
    miss aisle
    6th Nov 2014
    12:08pm
    "Initially the govt claimed we could not assist" - ?
    Tony Abbott did not rule it out, simply weighing up the facts of personnel safety.
    Admire him for being careful with Aussie lives.
    Can you say the same about Kevin R.?
    Grateful
    6th Nov 2014
    12:33pm
    Compare that to how quickly he jumped on board the popular poll subject and sent over 200 Australians into a WAR ZONE for the remains of 38 people who tragically had already lost their lives?? I don't want to be a cynic in such a horrendous issue, but, this delay in making a decision had nothing to do with being careful, he is the ultimate politician, and was just waiting to milk what the public reaction would be. He had NO choice!!!!
    The man cannot make a decision, been PM for nearly 14 months and what has he ACHIEVED?? Hasn't even got his first budget passed after 6 years to work it out!!!! How incongruous he looked, and will prove to be, among those other 6 Prime Ministers at Gough Whitlam's memorial!!
    KSS
    6th Nov 2014
    12:56pm
    You are a cynic Grateful. Were it not for Mr Abbott and Ms Bishop showing decisive leadership in the wake of the M17 atrocity, the families of those lost would all (not just Australians) be still waiting for answers. Unfortunately over the years Australia has gained much experience in forensic investigation and identifying body parts. It is to be expected that these same experts would be offered to others. None of the 200 Australians were in any serious danger, most of them were not in the 'war zone'. Those few that were, were very protected and none were injured in any way. So your point is???

    Mr Abbott has been very decisive but acted with great restraint in these matters. As for the budget, like it or not, it is the Greens and PUP in cahoots with Labor that has held up the passing of all the budget regardless of the merits or otherwise of the content. Not Mr Abbot being unable to make a decision.
    Tom Tank
    6th Nov 2014
    1:55pm
    Sorry KSS but you have me confused as it wasn't Abbott who got access to the MH17 crash site it was the Malaysian Prime Minister through careful behind the scene diplomacy.
    It may have escaped your attention but due to the excellent safety record of Australian Airlines we do not have a large body of people with expertise in air crash investigation and identifying victims of such disasters.
    The latest information available, from German Intelligence, indicates that the missile that brought the aircraft down was stolen from a Ukraine arms facility and Putin therefore, based upon that played no part in that disaster.
    Julie Bishop did on the other hand contribute significantly once she toned down her rhetoric but Abbot and his "shirtfront" antics created an embarrassment for all Australians. An example of his lack of careful consideration of the actual facts before making pronouncements.
    KSS
    6th Nov 2014
    3:43pm
    Tom Tank Australia does have expertise in identifying body parts, think about the Bali bombings, the Tsunami deaths, earthquakes all where Australia has sent teams of people to identify the dead. Do we have to deny expertise now as well as any good the current Government may be doing?

    Just so I know for future reference. Don't want to be left off the memo.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    6:20pm
    The Abbott government never claimed Australia could not assist. They did say that the government would not send medical staff to Africa if they weren't totally convinced of the effectiveness of the evacuation plan.
    Tom Tank
    6th Nov 2014
    10:46pm
    I said Australia didn't have a large body of people with expertise in aircraft disasters.
    I am sure whatever help we supplied was welcome but Australia was not the leader in all of this despite what some sections of the media and the Government were trying to infer. The Dutch were calling the shots and provided the leadership on the ground at the crash site. All the bluster in the world would not have achieved what the Malaysian and Dutch did as that took a calm diplomatic approach which was largely lacking from our end.
    miss aisle
    6th Nov 2014
    12:15pm
    "We now have a solution of sorts" -
    Kaye, what do you want - blood!
    If your close relative wanted to assist in Africa, wouldn't you want all facets checked &
    rechecked BEFORE Tony gives the OK?
    I would!
    dougie
    6th Nov 2014
    2:09pm
    At no time was it made impossible for people to volunteer to work in these countries, they could have gone at any time but would not be the responsibility of this Government. ie. If you get into trouble we cannot guarantee that we are able to help you! We do not at this stage have the facilities to recover you to Australia and nor do we have an agreement that allows you to enter a friendly country. We now have these matters in hand so the Government feels that it can assist. Well done! Now everyone can be happy.
    Polly Esther
    6th Nov 2014
    12:17pm
    We all enter the planet and leave the planet the same way wherever we may be on it, this makes us all pretty much akin really. So I say if you can help your fellow man no matter where by all means do and I think it should really matter not, who takes the credit. Most importance being, that someone is helped, heaven knows we all need some help sometime.
    Good bye, I now have to go and hang out the washing. PS I could do with some help.
    KSS
    6th Nov 2014
    12:32pm
    "Initially the government claimed that we could not assist the many other nations, including China, the USA and most European countries, as we are so far away, it was too difficult to evacuate any medical staff who became infected." Anything for a negative spin!

    Australia did assist with $18m. And people were quick to point out Bill Gates had contributed more! What was important to Mr Abbott was the safety of any Australian volunteer who may become infected with the Ebola virus as a result of their volunteering on the ground. Given it would be almost impossible to fly them back to Australia Mr Abbott wanted arrangements made with other, closer countries to take the sick Australian volunteers. This was finalised a few days ago. Now a further $20m has been announced to provide a clinic with 100 beds on the ground. Frankly the Governments of the countries involved in the health crisis are not to be trusted with such funding and the way to stay in control of it is to employ a private company to administer the funds. Its not as though our Government has chosen an inexperienced organisation to do so. And they can impose stiff reporting and accountability which you cannot do with a gift to a foreign country. It is the best way to ensure Government ownership.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    12:38pm
    Abbott appears to me to move quickly and decisively when the situation calls for it. As he did with the Foreign Fighters Bill and the new Terrorist Laws.
    Abbott also has shown an ability in judgement to move more cautiously when that approach is required.
    Meanwhile the opposition continues to move in the opposite direction every time. When will this relentless negativity be replaced by patriotic logic?
    Mar
    6th Nov 2014
    12:48pm
    Of course we should support them they are fellow human beings. It's a small world where disease is concerned, it could be us and what would we want.I agree with Grateful, the Governments decision Is political more than humanitarian. let's hope we can help and thank god for the wonderful medical people that want to help.
    KSS
    6th Nov 2014
    1:01pm
    So you think Australians should be there helping out yet criticise the decision from the Government to do precisely that as a political not a humanitarian one.

    Clearly I am missing something in your argument.
    Grateful
    6th Nov 2014
    1:26pm
    We're talking about the TIMING here KSS and the cause of that "delay". Nothing to do with the decision and nothing missing from Mar's argument, just your just having one eye open I suggest!!
    Stoker
    6th Nov 2014
    1:43pm
    really, if Abbott had 'jumped in' as suggested by a couple of comments, and if something went wrong or an unnaccounted for problem came up then of course it would be abuse for "failed Duty of Care"
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    2:16pm
    We have all seen how much the ALP actually care about human life. It was on our nightly news throughout the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government. How many deaths at sea? Was it 1200? They care more about politics than human life!
    Ming
    6th Nov 2014
    1:06pm
    Again the looney left who booed the conservative mourners at the memorial service are loose again. perhaps the government should have sent people to Africa without any proper arrangements for their care if the need arises. That is the way Rudd/Gillard implemented programmes ie, Pink Batts and school halls.
    particolor
    6th Nov 2014
    1:31pm
    Give It A Rest !!
    dougie
    6th Nov 2014
    2:29pm
    Yesterday I listened to Noel Pearson and his eulogy to "The Old Man" which encompassed the Aboriginal tradition of not naming a deceased person. What a wonderful and moving presentation.
    Such a pity that it could not have been matched by many at this solemn celebration of the life of a great or not so great dependent upon how you see it who saw fit to boo and heckle a number who attended to show their respect to this man.
    Have we grown so rude that we would do something so bad which I am sure that the "Old an" would not have welcomed or condoned. After all no matter what he was a gentleman and he respected people and their right to have opposing views.
    Mar
    6th Nov 2014
    1:21pm
    KSS. I think the timing of the response and the type of response was political.
    Grateful
    6th Nov 2014
    1:28pm
    That's the way I read your post too Mar. But, sadly, one must have a completely open mind to do that. Isn't bias such a blinding affliction???
    KSS
    6th Nov 2014
    3:46pm
    You are so right Grateful your bias IS such a blinding affliction.
    Mar
    6th Nov 2014
    1:30pm
    Ebola is not about pink batts and school halls, it's about people dying by the minute. It needs hands on, immediate help. We need to provide partnership with others. In this case things do need to happen as soon as possible. Both political parties should be involved in owning this problem.
    UNCLE FESTER
    6th Nov 2014
    1:56pm
    "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread" - I am not suggesting that the Prime Minister is an Angel but I do not think he is a fool either.
    The strange thing about this debate is that it has been couched as to seem that without Australia the epidemic could not be stopped.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    2:22pm
    I thought we had the RC into Home Insulation because of the deaths it caused? I watched some of it and it was apparent that it was rushed and mismanaged. Further very little regard was shown when deadly dangers were exposed.
    Mar
    6th Nov 2014
    2:02pm
    I think many angels have already "rushed in" to help with this epidemic. It's the "fools" that have the fear. Australia is a blessed country and should welcome being involved. I think the majority of Aussies want to help and everyone is certainly needed.
    Disco3
    6th Nov 2014
    2:21pm
    Of course we should go - now that we have a confirmed 'rescue' system for our volunteers and / or services personnel. Why do we persist in 'knocking' what the government is doing? Is it a national hobby or just an opportunity for the gripers to get their word in? As to the other part of the question, (should government 'own' assistance or leave it to a private company) I think the question "Why invent the wheel again?" is apt. Why deplete our Australian resources when another organisation already has the skills? The government will 'own' the contract anyway and it should include conditions etc. I suspect it would probably cost as much / more if the government owned it.
    Reeper
    6th Nov 2014
    2:22pm
    I agree with that the decision was only made after proper consultation and planning; like some one has said, we don't need another Pink Batts situation.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    4:00pm
    Everything labor touches turns to mud and yet they continue to claim the moral high ground. Their weak policies have caused hundreds of deaths and they have the audacity to lecture on how to keep safe the lives of Australians and others around the world? A total tragedy!!
    Tom Tank
    6th Nov 2014
    3:44pm
    Boy the "Righteous Right' are out in strength today.

    6th Nov 2014
    4:30pm
    Yes - We should go.

    The rest of the World has got to stop sitting back and let the US do ALL the heavy lifting.

    It's a global village. Every country including Oz should do its part.

    Can't understand the selfish ones on here!!!
    Anonymous
    6th Nov 2014
    4:35pm
    Sorry - delete selfish and insert, labor lefties
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    5:08pm
    It was only a few weeks ago the lefties wanted Australians to go to Africa? I think they still do but they're looking for a political angle on the government's decision.
    Anonymous
    6th Nov 2014
    5:12pm
    Shorten is always looking for a political angle.
    Can't stand that slimely weasel
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    5:37pm
    He may have Peter Faris to deal with soon.
    Kato
    6th Nov 2014
    5:13pm
    Is Pete going?
    Fready
    6th Nov 2014
    6:41pm
    In the end every action of the Government boils down to money. Why would Australia, a very small country on the other side of the world put its citizens at risk when other countries nearer the action are holding back. Will all those who support us going volunteer to donate the funds needed.? I don't think so. They are happy for Australians to go (and put the rest of us in danger) as long as they are not contributing.
    Young
    6th Nov 2014
    8:07pm
    Why should I not remind people of the deaths caused by the previous government?Rushed decisions are not needed any more.
    Adrianus
    6th Nov 2014
    9:42pm
    Billy, it's sad but there are a few on here who would like a return to hastie decisions and footpath policy releases. So sad. But I respect their right to be fools.
    Mar
    6th Nov 2014
    9:27pm
    I know what I would like to do with pink batts and it would be slowly and carefully!!!

    6th Nov 2014
    9:41pm
    What's the story with the Pink Batts, Billy.

    I must have been overseas and missed that story.

    Must be an interesting one for all the labor supporters to get so upset and defensive ...
    Adrianus
    7th Nov 2014
    7:40am
    When the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program had concluded it simply confirmed what most of us already knew, that Kevin Rudd was just another Labor mass debater and although he had been photographed with endless stockpiles of pink batts, he had no idea what they were. As it turned out, all the tools in the shed belonged to Therese.
    Another example of how labor's back room deals, rushed through for their wealthy mates to get even more wealthy, are more important than people's lives.
    Anonymous
    7th Nov 2014
    3:05pm
    Vampire Batts !
    fish head
    6th Nov 2014
    11:00pm
    For once we didn't jump in. Decent treatment will be available for any Australian staff who catch this beastly thing. BUT . . . any one who goes MUST be a volunteer and fully informed of the risks involved. And I don't mean an army 'volunteer' either.
    carmencita
    7th Nov 2014
    1:36am
    Why can't Africa take care of its problem? Of course, there is an international implications and consequences, but the country of origin should put more effort in addressing the problem instead of relying on other countries to solve its problem. This is mendicancy on greater scale. Africa is a very rich country. How it happens that its people appears poor, is something Africans should look into.
    Anonymous
    7th Nov 2014
    3:21pm
    This is not the time to determine whether Africa is a rich country or not carmencita, this is a crisis that can affect the world. It's every country's responsibility.
    Adrianus
    8th Nov 2014
    10:45am
    carmencita, Africa is a very wealthy country and if it wasn't for skewed views on politics and religion quite a few African nations would become economic powerhouses. All the developed world can do is continue to offer humanitarian support and pay the political leaders when shipping in free food etc.
    miss aisle
    8th Nov 2014
    6:34pm
    Also, in many African countries there is wide corruption -
    corruption, on a scale beyond our understanding.
    Adrianus
    8th Nov 2014
    6:49pm
    Exactly, a UNO WHO employee told me about how they had to bribe the political leaders of a certain African Nation just to be allowed to get food into feed their starving people.
    wally
    7th Nov 2014
    12:42pm
    Tanya Plibersik and the Boss of the AMA made a big fuss about how it was so shameful that Tony Abbott did not rush to send medical personnel to West Africa to respond to the Ebola crisis. Plivbersik's attacks on the government for not rushing in to Sierra Leone are SO typical of the Labor approach to doing things in a rush with no idea of what the consequences will be are so reminiscent of what happened under Labor. (For example, the ban on live cattle exports to Indonesia that sent cattle producers to the wall with livestock they could not sell but still had to feed, or shoot, and the pink batts schme)
    So now that the government has agreed to send medical people to assist in fighting Ebola, will the president and mouthpiece of the Australian Medical Association be going along to lend his medical expertise to help fight the disease? Will Tanya Plibersik be going there on a fact finding mission to provide a first hand report from the hospitals and clinics there to her fellow parliamentarians?
    Considering all the squawking they did about the lack of response to the crisis by our government, it would be hypocritical of them not to go. But will they?
    miss aisle
    8th Nov 2014
    6:30pm
    Whenever the Coalition shows initiative, Tanya & company enjoy insinuating how bad
    the ideas are. They put on their best "sad" face & more or less, say "shame" to govt.
    Then, sometimes when the govt.'s plan is in accordance with the left, they like to say
    "but, it's not enough". Ugh!
    How can Labor be so self-righteous when it comes to their massive mistakes
    costing $billions to taxpayers, & be so critically unrelenting when it comes to
    the Coalition trying to fix their ugly mess.
    Young
    7th Nov 2014
    12:59pm
    Why has not the following question been posed by those who run this site.
    Is it appropriate to boo political figures at a funeral?
    I did not see the funeral but have heard that some people were booed.Cannot believe this was done at a funeral.What does it say about the manners of these low individuals.
    wally
    10th Nov 2014
    9:23am
    An appropriate newspaper headline (which never appeared) would be "UNRULY BOGANS DISRUPT GOUGH'S SEND OFF". This gives us all an indication of the sort of people that were the selected, invited guests to attend, At least Bob Hawke displayed some decency toward Tony Abbott after the uproar died down. But where was that other Labor hero Paul Keating? Maybe he was listening to Mahler on his iPad and missed the whole thing. And where was Mark Latham? Did he get an invite?
    Mindy
    8th Nov 2014
    12:23pm
    We are missing the point. Aspen is a great company who will do a good job. Australia will be proud of their achievements in a few months.

    It does not matter if it is a private company. They are still Australians. Good on Glenn Keys for having a go. He would make a great Australian of the Year.
    unicorn
    11th Nov 2014
    5:24pm
    Personaly I think if somebody wants to go there and give aid do it don't wait for the government they can't afford to tell anyone to go after all they could be signing their own death certificate. Buy bu yjre same token don't wait for us to bring you home again at our expense.
    unicorn
    11th Nov 2014
    5:45pm
    Aside from all the Hoo Haa about pink bats etc - Political crap - which has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject which is Ebola. A disease which no doubt somebody will become famous for inventing a cure, the drug companies swill make a fortune making pills, etc & life will go on as usual. come Labs, libs, or hell or high water, Doen't matter who gets in they are all the same as far as sucking up to the drug companies in my opinion !


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