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Australia's Response to Ebola Crisis 'Lethally Inadequate'.

Australia has been criticised for the government's decision not to send its health workers to West Africa to help contain the Ebola virus currently ravaging three states. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop defended Australia's decision and said the World Health Organisation has not asked for health workers to be deployed in the outbreak zones.

According to reports, the health department and defence department had advised against sending medical personnel and cited evacuation logistical issues should health workers contract Ebola while on the field. Bishop reiterated that Australia is "pulling its weight" in the Ebola crisis. She told ABC radio that the government does not want to endanger the health of Australian health workers since no evacuation plans and appropriate care are currently in place.

Reports said the government is negotiating with the U.S. and the UK regarding evacuation plans. Opposition health spokesperson Catherine King called on Australia to send a medical team. She said it is within Australia's capability as a developed country to help those outside its borders.

The Australian government has donated $8 million to aid agencies to be used in the fight against Ebola. The virus has killed 3,000 people since December 2013.

More than cash, aid agencies need more health workers and medical equipment. It was previously reported that the Medicins Sans Frontieres Australia or Doctors Without Borders had rejected a $2.5 million donation. The organisation believes the money should be spent on logistical help comparable to military assistance in major disasters around the world.

MSF Australia Executive Director Paul McPhin told AAP that it was the aid organisation's role to carry the responsibility of addressing an epidemic. The organisation's teams on the ground in West Africa are in dire need of personnel, equipment and logistical support. He said MSF health workers were forced to refuse patients that have become highly infectious due to lack of equipment and supplies.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said earlier that the government was monitoring the situation in West Africa. He is willing to commit more money if the outbreak worsened. MSF described Australia's response as "lethally inadequate", reports (http://www.skynews.com.au/news/top-stories/2014/09/29/australia-is--pulling-its-weight--on-ebola.html) Sky News .

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Sep 30, 2014
Words:364
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