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Hundreds of nurses and midwives keen to combat Ebola

Ebola
Photo: Ebola in West Africa. Pic: Australian Red Cross
Hundreds of Australian nurses and midwives want to join the fight against the deadly Ebola virus sweeping West Africa.

An Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) survey has revealed more than 350 nurses and midwives, out of 1375 respondents to the online poll conducted over five days, would volunteer to assist in the provision of medical care and work to halt the spread of the outbreak.

The results come as a Roy Morgan poll shows 70 per cent of Australians support sending nurses and doctors to West Africa to assist in the epidemic, while 23 per cent are against the move and seven per cent are unsure.

The federal government has refused to send health teams to West Africa to support the international response to Ebola.

The landlocked country of Mali has become the sixth West African country to report a case of Ebola after the death of a two-year-old girl.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states the Ebola death toll remains unchanged at almost 5000.

ANMF federal secretary Lee Thomas said the union’s poll results are proof that hundreds of nurses and midwives are ready and willing to assist with Ebola if the government coordinates the effort.

“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,” she 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.”

The poll found almost 90 per cent of respondents want the government to guarantee the safe return of volunteers and boost the Ebola response.

“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,” Ms Thomas said.

“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.”

Ms Thomas said it’s vital the government avoids any further delays.

“On October 1, world experts agreed we had 60 days to control the Ebola outbreak…30 of those days have slipped by,” she said.

“Every day we delay acting to control this Ebola outbreak, we increase the risk that it will spread across the globe and reach Australia.”

The ANMF has urged nurses and midwives along with the wider community to donate to the Red Cross Ebola Outbreak Appeal.

Donations to the Australian Red Cross Ebola Outbreak 2014 Appeal can be made at online or by calling 1800 811 700.

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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