Australia Hires Private Firm to Fight Ebola in West Africa

Australia Hires Private Firm to Fight Ebola in West Africa

Australia is contracting a private medical firm to operate and staff an Ebola hospital in Sierra Leone, Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced.

Various news outlets reported that on Nov. 5 Abbott said Australia would contribute $17 million to fund a 100-bed treatment center being built by Britain.  

The prime minister ruled out dispatching government health workers. Locals are expected to make up most of the workforce.

“We are not sending people over,” he said, BBC reported. “We are ensuring there is a 100-bed treatment center staffed and run in Sierra Leone. Aspen, an Australian health provider, is doing it.”

“We anticipate about 240 staff required to do the job,” added Abbott, according to Reuters. “Most of them will be locally engaged. Some will be international and it’s quite possible, even likely, that some will be Australian.”

Aspen Medical, a private Australian company, has been operating a clinic in Liberia for several months, noted The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia.

Australia’s move follows pressure from the United States and others to do more to confront the deadly virus in West Africa.  

“Until now the government has resisted these calls, citing the absence of arrangements to provide treatment to any Australian personnel who may contract the virus,” noted The Sydney Morning Herald.

Abbott said he had “received assurances from Britain that any Australians who contracted the virus in West Africa would be treated as if they were British citizens,” added the Australian news outlet.

Tony Abbott reportedly expects Aspen to have workers on the ground in West Africa “within days” and for the Ebola hospital to be up and running by the end of November.