An Australian doctor who has just returned from treating Ebola victims in west Africa says the international community must do more to stem the crisis.
A Queensland doctor who has been treating Ebola victims in west Africa says the international community must do more to help stem the crisis.
Ebola has killed at least 3000 people across the region since December last year and there are predictions that 1.4 million people could be affected by the virus by January 2015.
Dr Jenny Stedmon, who spent a harrowing month as a specialist volunteer in Kanama, Sierra Leone, says the outbreak is showing no signs of slowing.
Seventy per cent of those she treated had died.
The local hospital was overwhelmed, and she left feeling shocked about how fast the disease was spreading.
Dr Stedmon is now completing a precautionary 21-day quarantine period, where she’s banned from touching other people, just in case the full protective equipment she wore each day wasn’t enough.
“It’s not a very nice feeling. But you know what the disease is when you’re going in,” she said.
“You know there’s no known treatment. There are no vaccinations. So you’re really doing your best to give basic medical care and comfort and to help stop the disease spreading.”
Australia recently committed an extra $8 million to organisations battling Ebola on the ground, on top of $40 million already given this year.
But it won’t be sending health workers to west Africa after defence and health officials told the Australian government it wasn’t possible to safely evacuate any infected health workers back home.
Dr Stedmon said the International Red Cross had procedures in place to deal with the risk, and urged other aid workers not to be deterred from going to west Africa to help.
“They need people. The international community really needs to take some notice of this and offer help. We’re the only people who can do it.”