Letter to the Minister of Health and the Minister of International Development

Media/Press Release
Friday, September 19, 2014

Letter to the Minister of Health and the Minister of International Development

September 16, 2014

Hon. Rona Ambrose, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Health
163 East Block
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Hon. Christian Paradis, P.C., M.P.
Minister of International Development
507 Confederation Building
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Dear Ministers Ambrose and Paradis,

We are writing to ask Canada to increase its efforts with regard to the rapidly expanding Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Health Organization (WHO) recently stressed the urgent need for more human resources and $1 billion in funds to fight the worsening situation. For only the second time in history, the UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting, on a “public health crisis,” citing the WHO comment on the Ebola crisis as “unparalleled in modern times”.

Specifically, we ask that you contribute, not only more than the 7.5 million dollars, but also more personnel and equipment to the affected regions, as WHO requests and that you provide much needed hydration supplies to Ebola patients, since evidence shows that hydration can greatly decrease the mortality rate. WHO has stated clearly that while money and materials are important tools, they alone cannot stop transmission of the Ebola virus. Human resources are also a most important need.

The number of Ebola cases and deaths in this current outbreak has already exceeded the sum of all previous outbreaks combined. The number of cases, as of September 16th, is estimated at 4,985; and the number of deaths at 2,461. Of these cases, over half have been reported in the last 21 days, demonstrating the rapid and unchecked spread of the disease.

The U.S. Government has provided $100 million; $75 million for 1,000 treatment beds in Liberia and 130,000 protective suits for health workers. We note that Congress has recently been asked to provide another $88 million for additional supplies and public health personnel. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already sent 103 staffers to West Africa, and plan to send 50 more.  Today, U.S. President Barack Obama announced a “ramping up” of medical assistance to the affected West African countries and is preparing to assign 3,000 military personnel to the region for medical and logistical support. These military personnel will train as many as 500 health care workers a week, erect 17, 100-bed heath care facilities, in the region, establish a joint command centre to co-ordinate relief efforts in the region, and provide home health care kits to hundreds of thousands of households.

China has sent 115 health care workers, a mobile lab and a staff of 59 to help undertake tests. Cuba has sent 165 health care workers. WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, continues to stress that the key to beating the disease is “people power.” Pledges of equipment and money are coming in, but 500-600 foreign experts and at least 1,000 local health workers are still needed on the ground. Two hundred doctors and nurses are needed to staff an 80-bed Ebola treatment centre in Liberia, where there are no current treatment beds.

We ask that your Government expand Canada’s efforts to respond to this deadly outbreak with generosity and humanity.  As WHO stated, “a humane world cannot allow West Africa to suffer on such an extraordinary scale.”

Yours truly,

Dr. Kirsty Duncan, M.P.                  Hon. Dr. Hedy Fry, P.C., M.P.           Hon. Carolyn Bennett, M.D., M.P.

Etobicoke North                              Vancouver Centre                              St. Paul’s