Australian nurses "ready to fight" Ebola
More than 350 Australian nurses and midwives are willing to travel to West Africa to volunteer in the fight against the Ebola crisis, according to the results of a new national survey.
The poll conducted over five days by the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) asked nurses and midwives for their views on the Ebola crisis – it received more than 1375 responses from across the country.
"We now have proof that more than 350 Australian nurses are ready, willing and able to help in the fight against Ebola," ANMF Federal Secretary Lee Thomas said in a statement on Thursday (30 October).
"We have been overwhelmed by the response from our members, who continue to be deeply concerned by the Government's reluctance to join the international effort to fight what is rapidly becoming a devastating humanitarian crisis."
"Obligation" as health care professionals
Thomas said: "Our members feel a strong obligation, as health care professionals, to care for people with all types of illnesses regardless of their circumstances or where they are located.
"As such, they are deeply disappointed by the Government's lack of response to calls for assistance from their own health experts and recently from other countries which have been leading the fight to control the outbreak.
"Almost 90 per cent of the survey respondents believe the Government must guarantee the safe return of volunteers and that it must do more to fight this epidemic.
"Our members, who are experts in the field, have clearly told us that acting now to control the outbreak at the source is the only effective way to deal with the Ebola crisis.
"They are ready now to use their skills and knowledge to assist in the fight if the Government coordinates the effort and guarantees them support.
"The ANMF has been asking the Government to coordinate an appropriate Australian response for 6 weeks now.
"On October 1, world experts agreed we had 60 days to control the Ebola outbreak – and already let 30 of those days have slipped by.
"Every day we delay acting to control this Ebola outbreak, we increase the risk that it will spread across the globe and reach Australia.
"We have hundreds of Australian nurses and midwives ready to join the fight against Ebola."
Aid mission "not without risk"
Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said Australia had received many calls from the international community to lend a hand of support.
"We've had calls all saying Australia has highly experienced staff willing and able to go and they should be sent," Plibersek said.
"Of course any such mission is not without risk, this is a dangerous part of the world now and the virus is spreading.
"But what President Obama has said and what our own health professionals are telling us is the best way of keeping Australia safe is to stop this virus in West Africa."