The Australian Government has officially pitched in to the international efforts to help fight the ebola crisis in Sierra Leone

The Sydney Morning Herald report that, at a press conference this afternoon, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that Australia will commit “up to 20 million dollars” to a 100-bed treatment centre, which is being built by the United Kingdom.

Abbott said that the government itself will not be deploying health workers, but will instead be contracting private Australian healthcare company Aspen Medical to staff the centre. 

Aspen Medical’s website describes it as a contractor to governments and NGOs that aims to “bring essential healthcare services to wherever they are needed following natural disasters or in countries emerging from conflicts.”

They go on to say: “Our expertise in delivering healthcare solutions in remote, challenging or under-resourced environments is central to ensuring a successful outcome for our clients and the local population in the affected region.” 

It also appears that they are seeking staff to help them in West Africa. The website indicates that they are seeking health professionals who have:

– Previous humanitarian response experience 

– Previous tropical and/or public health experience

– Previous experience in overseas deployed health response

Reportedly, more than 130 Australians have already applied to be part of the team. Inquiries and expressions of interest can be directed here. 

In his announcement, Abbott said that up to 240 personnel will be needed to staff the centre, and that in the interests of preventing local transmission of the disease, any Australian who contacts ebola will be treated in Sierra Leone or Europe.

“The last thing anyone would want to do is to have personnel going to Africa, coming back to Australia and acting as carriers for this horrible disease,” he said in his announcement.

“I think the Australian people expect our priorities to be prevention at home, preparedness in the region, and work in the wider world and that’s what we are doing as part of our campaign, to be the very best possible international citizen.”

Aspen already have a presence in Liberia, and it is hoped that there will be staff on the ground in Sierra Leone within days.

Photo: Joern Pollex via Getty Images