16 Nov 2014

NZ to send volunteers to fight Ebola

7:02 am on 16 November 2014

New Zealand is planning to send volunteers to Sierra Leone to help contain the Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 5000 people in West Africa.

Protestors call for further action to fight Ebola in Brisbane on 15 November.

Protestors call for further action to fight Ebola in Brisbane on 15 November. Photo: AFP

Prime Minister John Key said he spoke with his British counterpart David Cameron at the G20 Leaders' Summit about assisting British efforts in the country.

Prime Minster John Key arrives in Brisbane for the G20 Summit.

Prime Minister John Key arrives in Brisbane Photo: RNZ / Patrick O'Meara

"The Brits are basically running an operation in Sierra Leone and it's highly likely if we put people there, that's where we'll go," he said.

"We're in the final stages of firming that up but if we do that, it'll be at the British contingent, though probably working alongside Australia."

Mr Key said there had been an overwhelming response from doctors and nurses in New Zealand about going to help.

G20 stops short of global fund

Leaders at the G20 Summit have committed to mobilising resources to combat Ebola but stopped short of agreeing to a global pandemic fund.

The G20 issued a joint statement on the crisis, saying all members were "committed to do what is necessary to ensure the international effort can extinguish the outbreak and address its medium-term economic and humanitarian costs".

However, aid organisations have already criticised the statement.

Oxfam Australia Chief Executive Helen Szoke said a lack of urgency and specific commitments meant there was a real risk the UN's target to treat 70 percent of cases by 1 December would not be met.

"I think it's reasonable that all of the G20 countries are explicit about what their financial commitment can be both in the short-term and the longer term."

The World Bank, which has suggested the cost of the outbreak could rise as high as $30 billion, has proposed setting up a global pandemic emergency facility.

The G20 statement called on both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to explore new flexible mechanisms to address the economic effects of future comparable crises, but did not specify a particular approach.

Ms Szoke said the G20 should commit to funding levels in its final communique on Sunday.

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