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Ebola report shows that aid funding must be restored

Commenting on the release of a landmark Médecins Sans Frontières report on the response to the Ebola epidemic, Greens Senator Lee Rhiannon said:

“This report shows us how inadequate the response to the Ebola crisis was.

“One year on from the outbreak of the Ebola crisis, it’s clear that we do not just need our aid budget ‘saved’ from further cuts – we need it restored.

“From the beginning, the Greens called on Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop to assist the growing international response by sending a large scale on-ground team to West Africa.

“Instead, we had a prolonged delay in responding to the Ebola epidemic. When the Abbott government did act, it paid $20 million to Aspen Medical, a private medical company, to run an Ebola response in Sierra Leone.

“This sidelined the government’s Medical Assistance Teams of health professionals who were ready for quick deployment to disaster areas – and equipped to provide the kind of assistance that Médecins Sans Frontières told us we needed,” Senator Rhiannon said.

Senator Rhiannon also noted that the Abbott Government’s aid cuts left Australia ill-equipped to respond to the crisis.

“Australia had a responsibility to play its part in this massive health and social crisis by joining the teams from Britain, China, the USA and Cuba.

“The Abbott government’s brutal cuts to the aid budget meant we were unable to do this. Our response was delayed and inadequate.” Senator Rhiannon said.

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