CHRIS UHLMANN: The Australian Government is still resisting
pressure to send doctors and nurses to West Africa to fight Ebola. More than 100
public health professionals have signed a letter urging a greater contribution
be made at the source of the outbreak. The Opposition and the Greens are also
pleading for more to be done.
Tony Abbott has said it would be "irresponsible" for Australia to send doctors, nurses or even military personnel to the Ebola hit countries at this time.
Simon Santow reports.
SIMON SANTOW: So far the pleas of aid agencies such as Medecins Sans Frontieres have fallen on deaf ears. They want Australian experts - doctors, nurses, army, biohazard teams and qualified health workers - to lend a hand where it's needed most.
Now more than 100 health professors have added their voices on the need for urgent action on Ebola in West Africa.
MICHAEL MOORE: Well, it's a letter from over 100, in fact 113 Australian professors of health and these are people who understand the sorts of things the Prime Minister is saying but we want to make sure that he realises it's important to intervene as effectively as we can in the Ebola crisis right now.
SIMON SANTOW: Michael Moore is the chief executive of the Public Health Association of Australia. He's welcomed the Government's contribution of $18 million in Ebola aid but says Australia can make an even more valuable contribution.
MICHAEL MOORE: It's really important for the world, for Australia, that intervention occurs as quickly as possible before this really gets out of hand.
SIMON SANTOW: So Michael Moore, what's stopping these people - and I presume you're talking about doctors, nurses, support personnel, military-type people - what's stopping them from going over if the Australian Government isn't giving them backing?
MICHAEL MOORE: Oh look there are already some people going over. There's no question about that. And we know that NGOs (non-government organisations) like Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres, they're working and getting volunteers.
What we have to do is make sure that the government intervenes in the way the World Health Organization asks in their road map to deal with the Ebola crisis.
SIMON SANTOW: The Opposition has also written to the foreign and health ministers, urging them to send Australian health professionals as soon as possible.
Labor's Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek on Newsradio this morning:
TANYA PLIBERSEK: I know that we have Australians who are ready and willing to go who are being discouraged by the Government's position. And I think it's very important that we use the resources that we have. The US and the UK are, for example, sending significant numbers of their defence personnel and they're able to undertake very important roles like, for example, building temporary hospitals.
SIMON SANTOW: Greens Senator Richard di Natale rejects the Government's argument that sending Australians would be irresponsible because there's no easy way to evacuate them if they fall ill.
RICHARD DI NATALE: It's just shameful that we've got a government that has been completely missing in action. The national response has been pathetic. We've seen countries like the US, China, even Cuba commit people, commit resources, logistical support, mobile laboratories, and yet here in Australia we've been sitting on our hands and it's shameful.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Greens Senator Richard di Natale ending Simon Santow's report.