House debates

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Statements by Members


1:42 pm

Photo of Melissa ParkeMelissa Parke (Fremantle, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Health) Share this | | Hansard source

As it fights desperately against the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, Medecins Sans Frontieres, MSF, have said clearly to Australia and other countries that they do not want our money. But they urgently need our assistance, our cooperation, and the application of our health resources and capabilities. Until recently MSF and other NGOs and the WHO have been practically waging this battle alone. The Ebola outbreak, which has been declared a 'threat to international peace and security' by the UN Security Council, needs an appropriate and coordinated international response, a response that has so far been too slow—a response described by MSF as 'lethally inadequate'.

Currently many of those infected are returning to their communities because health centres do not have sufficient capacity. This means that, without additional resources, 1.4 million people could be infected by early next year. In addition, the health infrastructure of the affected countries has broken down, so that medical issues other than Ebola, such as malaria and tuberculosis are now either not being treated or such patients are being exposed to the additional risk of contracting Ebola.

Countries around the world are beginning to acknowledge their responsibility to combat this global threat, with the US, UK, China and Cuba having recently offered physical support. Australia, too, needs to take this responsibility seriously and make a commitment that is greater and more useful than the $8 million that has been committed to date. This is a global threat that needs a global response. I urge the government to commit to logistical support, personnel and equipment to the region, and to develop a plan to evacuate and treat Australian health workers who are courageously assisting with this crisis. (Time expired)