This evening I paid tribute to the dedication and professionalism of healthcare workers and support staff from the Australian-managed Hastings Airfield Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC) in Sierra Leone.
Members of the Ebola response team gathered at Parliament House tonight and received medals in recognition of their service from their employer, Aspen Medical.
In total, 49 Australian and nine New Zealand healthcare professionals provided high-quality care over a five-month period. These workers were supported by and helped to train over 250 Sierra Leonean staff, a significant capacity building legacy.
Under very challenging working conditions, 36 patients received life-saving treatment for Ebola, and a further 120 patients were monitored and discharged after testing negative for Ebola.
The Australian Government was able to close the ETC at the end of April after the Government of Sierra Leone rationalised and consolidated the number of treatment centres as the outbreak started to come under control. I am further encouraged by evidence that the situation in West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak has stabilised in recent weeks.
I thanked Aspen Medical for providing the Australian Government with a timely and highly professional response. No international or local staff contracted Ebola at the ETC despite the high-risk operating environment, demonstrating the quality of the infection prevention and control protocols developed and implemented.
I also expressed my appreciation for the crucial support provided by the Governments of Sierra Leone, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.
Australia will continue to focus on strengthening South-East Asian and Pacific regional preparedness for emerging health threats and building country-level health systems that are responsive to people’s needs.
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