Canada's new top doctor planning beefed-up Ebola effort
Josh Elliott, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, September 24, 2014 10:02PM EDT
The incoming head of the Public Health Agency of Canada says he wants to step up efforts to fight the Ebola outbreak.
Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s newly-appointed chief medical officer, says he wants to send more mobile clinics, more doctors and more medical supplies to West Africa, where thousands have died from Ebola.
On his first day on the job Wednesday, Taylor told CTV’s Ottawa Bureau chief Robert Fife that he aims to dispatch special medical teams to respond to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone. Taylor also said he wants to create more Ebola treatment clinics, and he hopes to use Canadian military aircraft to send more medical supplies and protective gear to West Africa.
“Every option is on the table right now,” Taylor said. “I expect something shortly, but we are looking at all the various options.”
More than 2,800 people have died of Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal and Nigeria since the outbreak began earlier this summer. About 5,800 cases have been reported, but it’s believed many more cases exist in parts of those countries where medical workers cannot go.
The virus has severely taxed healthcare services in the hardest-hit countries of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. Individuals with treatable diseases like malaria have had difficulty seeing a doctor, and some have died as a result.
“We have to scale up the treatment beds,” said Steve Cornish, a spokesperson for Medecin San Frontieres. “There are not enough doctors or nurses locally to do this, so we have to get teams from outside.”
MSF says Canada has been one of the most supportive countries for the healthcare effort in West Africa.
But that hasn’t always been the case, according to Carolyn McAskie, former assistant secretary general at the United Nations. McAskie says the Harper government missed its chance to strengthen Sierra Leone’s infrastructure in 2011, when it failed to follow up on a UN commitment to bring aid to the country.
McAskie says Canada committed to helping Sierra Leone, but “did nothing.”
With files from CTV Ottawa's Bureau Chief Robert Fife