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NZ steps up support for fight against Ebola

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman and Foreign Minister Murray McCully have outlined further support from New Zealand to help combat the spread of Ebola.

“Ebola is having a devastating impact in parts of West Africa. More than 5,000 people have died from the disease and it is estimated that more than 14,000 people have become infected,” Dr Coleman says.

“If the developed world fails to act, case numbers will exponentially increase, with devastating consequences for long term stability in Africa.

“Today Cabinet has agreed to facilitate the deployment of up to 24 New Zealand volunteers as part of the Australian flagged mission in Sierra Leone.

“This practical contribution will cost $2 million and will ensure that highly skilled New Zealand health professionals are able to join the fight against Ebola. All the New Zealand personnel will be self-nominating and it is envisaged their deployments will last around 6-12 weeks.

“The government takes its responsibility to these volunteers very seriously and ensuring their safety is our paramount concern. Through our planning we have ensured that the New Zealand volunteers will have access to suitable treatment, including medical evacuation, should it be required.”

In addition to supporting the deployment of volunteers to Sierra Leone the government will also provide a package of assistance to Pacific countries to help them prepare for an Ebola outbreak.

“The risk of Ebola reaching the Pacific is very low, but the consequences if it did could be devastating,” Mr McCully says.

“We have agreed to provide $1 million to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) regional response plan, which aims to improve Pacific Island countries’ ability to detect, contain, and respond to Ebola cases.

“This funding and the deployment of volunteers to Sierra Leone complements the financial assistance we have already made available to the United Nations to combat Ebola in West Africa.

“It is clear that a concerted effort from the international community is required to stop Ebola from spreading and New Zealand is determined to play its part,” Mr McCully says.

New Zealand’s total funding for the international response to Ebola now stands at $5 million. This is includes $2 million in funding for UN agencies responding in West Africa, $1 million for the WHO’s Pacific regional response plan, and the $2 million cost of facilitating the deployment of personnel to Sierra Leone.

For more information about volunteering for the Sierra Leone deployment please visit www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/ebola-updates/new-zealand-support-response-ebola-outbreak-west-africa

Media contacts:
Angela Kenealy (Minister Coleman) 021 220 0129
Adham Crichton (Minister McCully) 04-817 9598 and 021 241 0027

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