Health professionals keen to join Ebola fight

  • Jonathan Coleman

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman says there has been a high level of interest from New Zealand health professionals wanting to join international efforts to combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. 

“Since expressions of interest opened last Monday, 34 people have registered their interest via the Ministry of Health website,” says Dr Coleman.

The Government is facilitating the deployment of up to 24 volunteers as part of the Australian-flagged mission in Sierra Leone. The Australian mission involves operating a 100-bed Ebola treatment centre. 

“New Zealanders have already been involved in the international response through NGOs, and others have put up their hands asking how they can be part of a New Zealand response,” says Dr Coleman.

“This arrangement with Australia allows us to harness that interest and commitment, so that New Zealand can offer a sustained and coordinated level of assistance.” 

The Australian Government has contracted Aspen Medical, a private medical provider, to manage the mission in Sierra Leone. Aspen will be responsible for selecting, training, contracting and deploying all volunteers, including those from New Zealand.

A number of details are still to be finalised, and it is expected to be at least six weeks before any New Zealanders are deployed.

“The risk of Ebola entering New Zealand remains very low, and the risk of it spreading is assessed as extremely low,” says Dr Coleman.