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Aussie health professionals sign up for Ebola response

Red Cross,Ebola
Photo: The Ebola frontline. Image: Red Cross.
More than a thousand health professionals have applied to join the Australian Government’s response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Health care provider Aspen Medical, which is coordinating the provision of a 100-bed Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in Sierra Leone, said there’s been a “significant response” from Australia’s nurses and doctors with more than 700 of the 1000-plus applicants invited to the next stage of the application process.

A spokesperson for Aspen Medical said a broad spectrum of health professionals, such as nurses and doctors, alongside health care sector administration/IT and cleaning workers will join the response.

He said the first deployment will be sent within weeks after volunteers complete a three-day deployment training exercise in Australia with another two-weeks of training set to take place in Sierra Leone.

The Canberra-based medical company is taking expressions of interest from health professionals wanting to join the Ebola frontline and, at this stage, there is no cut-off date for applications.

“This is a rolling project, we will be looking for applicants on an ongoing basis,” the spokesperson said.

Aspen Medical is coordinating all clinical and logistics services for the ETU, as part of United Kingdom-led international efforts to treat Sierra Leone citizens who have contracted the deadly virus.

Aspen Medical, which has been running a clinic in Liberia for several months, was recently awarded the Australian government’s $20 million contract to run the ETU clinic for the next eight months.

The New Zealand government has moved to facilitate the deployment of up to 24 volunteers as part of the Australian mission in Sierra Leone.

“This practical contribution will cost $2 million and will ensure that highly skilled New Zealand health professionals are able to join the fight against Ebola,” Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said.

“All the New Zealand personnel will be self-nominating and it is envisaged their deployments will last around 6-12 weeks.”

Dr Coleman said volunteers will have access to treatment, including medical evacuation, if required.

“The government takes its responsibility to these volunteers very seriously and ensuring their safety is our paramount concern,” he said.

More than 5000 people have now died from Ebola and it’s estimated more than 14,000 people have been infected.

In its announcement, the Australian government said it had received “credible assurances” for in-country treatment and medical evacuation of Australian volunteers working to combat Ebola in West Africa.

“It is only right that, as these measures become operational, we now make a further prudent and proportionate contribution.”

Health professionals wanting to join Australia’s ebola response can register here and New Zealand health professionals can apply here.

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Karen Keast

Karen Keast is a freelance health journalist who writes news and feature articles for HealthTimes.

Karen regularly writes for some of Australia’s leading health news websites and magazines.  In a media career spanning 20 years, Karen has worked as a senior journalist in newspapers and television. She has covered the grind of daily news and worked as a politics reporter at countless state and federal elections.

Since venturing into freelance writing five years ago, Karen has found her niche in writing about the health sector for editors, businesses and corporations.

Karen has interviewed the heads of peak health organisations in Australia and overseas, and written hundreds of news and feature articles covering the dedicated work of health professionals who tread the corridors of hospitals and health services, universities, aged care facilities and practices, day in and day out.

Follow Karen Keast on Twitter @stylemywords