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First Ebola patients discharged from Australian-run Sierra Leone treatment facility

The first patients have been successfully discharged from an Australian-run Ebola treatment facility in Sierra Leone.

An 11-year-old girl, Aminata Bangura, was the first person to be released from the clinic with a clean bill of health. She was collected from the clinic by family members last week.

Before she left, Aminata placed her hand on a wall at the clinic set up to display the hand prints of Ebola survivors who have been treated there.

"Aminata is the first to have her hand print on the wall," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.

Ms Bishop said Aminata had lost eight members of her family to Ebola.

Two other patients have since been discharged from the facility, at Hastings Airfield, near Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

The clinic has admitted 37 patients since it opened in mid-December. Of these, eight have died and 26 are currently receiving treatment.

The facility was built by the British government and is being operated on Australia's behalf by healthcare company Aspen Medical. It is being staffed by a mix of Sierra Leonean workers and 32 Australian and New Zealand health professionals. Four other Australians have already returned home after completing their deployments.

"I'm pleased that the treatment centre is under way, that it is making a difference, that we are saving lives," Ms Bishop said.

Australia's total contribution to the Ebola response stands at $45 million, including $23 million to manage and staff the Sierra Leone facility.

Globally, there have been more than 20,000 cases of Ebola in the current outbreak, and almost 8000 deaths, most in the west African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN
AFFAIRS

The Hon Julie Bishop MP
MINISTER FOR HEALTH
The Hon Peter Dutton MP
17 September 2014

FURTHER AUSTRALIAN ASSISTANCE TO CONTROL THE EBOLA
OUTBREAK IN WEST AFRICA

The Australian Government will immediately provide a further $7 million to support the international response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. We share the international community's deep concern over the recent Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa. Health systems in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are under severe strain and the United Nations assesses that these countries are facing a humanitarian emergency.

The Australian Government will provide $2.5 million for the World Health Organization's (WHO) consolidated regional response, and $2.5 million to M?decins Sans Fronti?res (MSF) to support the provision of frontline medical services.

Following a request from the United Kingdom, an additional $2 million will be provided to support their delivery of front-line medical services in Sierra Leone. This brings the total Australian Government contribution to the Ebola outbreak response to date to $8 million.

This assistance is in addition to the over $20 million Australia will contribute to the WHO in 2014 and 2015 and the further $20 million Australia provides annually to support WHO's global health activities, including to respond to disease threats.

While Ebola is a very serious disease, there have been no cases of Ebola in Australia and the risk of an outbreak in Australia remains low. Australia has robust border protection systems and our infection control measures in hospitals are first rate.

Australian health authorities will continue to regularly communicate on this issue, closely monitor the situation overseas and assess the efficacy of our border measures.

We strongly advise Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and to leave these countries while commercial means are still available. Further information on the implications of the Ebola outbreak for Australian travelers can be found on the Smartraveller website (smartraveller.gov.au).

H. Consul General Aron Wakil Thanks Australia

To the Foreign Minster The Hon Julie Bishop MP.

I want to thank the Prime Minister Tony Abbott, the Foreign minister Julie Bishop, Health Minister Peter Dutton and the Australian Government, which today announced further assistance of $7,000,000 to control the Ebola outbreak in West Africa and with specific assistance to Sierra Leone in the order of $2,000,000. This comes on top of one million dollars in assistance to Sierra Leone announced earlier this year by the Australian Government.

With new commitments from around the world to stop the virus including "Operation United Assistance" announced by President Obama, the Australian Government has responded in time to join the fight.

With so many crises and urgent needs in many regions of the world, Australia showed once again that it is an upstanding member of the international community and a true friend to Sierra Leone.

As the honorary Consul General of Sierra Leone in Australia and with Sierra Leone Ambassador Victor Foh's endorsement, I thank the Australian people and government for their generous commitment.

Aron Wakil
H.Consul General and Trade Commissioner of The Republic of Sierra Leone, Australia. Jurisdiction throughout Australia