I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government is able to close the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone by 30 April 2015.
This decision follows a process led by the Government of Sierra Leone to rationalise and consolidate ETCs as the situation in West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak has stabilised. I acknowledge the role played by the Governments of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea in leading the international response to the Ebola outbreak.
The number of new infections in Sierra Leone are decreasing, and there are now more treatment beds available than new patients in Sierra Leone.
Since opening in December 2014, the United Kingdom-established and Australian-managed ETC has admitted 216 patients, with 36 successfully treated for Ebola. A further 120 patients were monitored and discharged after testing negative for Ebola.
In total, Australia has made a significant, practical and timely contribution of more than $37 million to the international Ebola response. The closure of the ETC on 30 April 2015 will allow the Australian Government to return $7.5 million of unspent funds to Australia’s Emergency Humanitarian Fund.
I congratulate Aspen Medical for its professionalism in managing Australia’s ETC and thank the dedicated health care workers who delivered Australia’s contribution. Over 250 Sierra Leonean staff have been trained at Australia’s ETC, building skills and capacity in Sierra Leone.
No local or international staff employed at the ETC contracted Ebola, demonstrating the effectiveness of the ETC's strict protocols and the quality of staff training. Three clinical incidents resulted in precautionary medical evacuations of international workers to the United Kingdom. I am pleased to confirm that none of these workers contracted the virus.
Australia will continue to focus on building resilient health systems in our region to ensure readiness for possible future infectious disease outbreaks.
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