Ebola activists on the march

The march to deliver a letter to the Premier on the Ebola crisis. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d429012
The march to deliver a letter to the Premier on the Ebola crisis. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d429012

Members of the Perth Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia communities joined with Christian City Church Fremantle for the march from Kings Park to Parliament House, where they delivered a letter to the Premier asking for more aid.

The letter also asked permission for Australian citizens of West African descent to return to their countries to volunteer in the fight against Ebola.

The Association of Liberian Community WA president Nathaniel Nyanfore said many in the African community in WA had family members in Ebola-affected countries.

‘We have people here who have lost five members of their family to this disease,’ he said.

‘Liberia for example, is coming out of 14 years of civil unrest in which many thousands have died. How many more should Ebola take before it is enough? It is a big issue for us.

‘We are hopeless and don’t know where to turn for help. Our people are dying daily; more than 5000 now and counting. There are medical personnel and some African nurses in WA who want to volunteer but travel bans are preventing us.’

Christian City Church Fremantle founder Andrea Surman said the West African communities were frustrated at Australia’s slow response to calls for help.

‘The march was a way to raise awareness of the issue here in Western Australia,’ she said.

‘While the West African communities are grateful for the aid donated so far, they believe that more is needed because it is not only fighting the disease but the long-term recovery of these economies. Public awareness is critical, otherwise the general population accept the Government’s rhetoric as truth.’

World Health Organisation Info On The Ebola Virus
The Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.

The average EVD case fatality rate is about 50 per cent.

The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in west Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.

Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks.

Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.

Early supportive care with rehydration and symptomatic treatment improves survival.

There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.

There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but two potential candidates are undergoing evaluation.