British PM wants greater Ebola response

British Prime Minister David Cameron will press other world leaders including Tony Abbott to do more to combat Ebola, having declared the issue will be at the top the agenda at the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane.


Aid and health organisations on Thursday repeated calls for nations to lift their response to the Ebola crisis, amid warnings the window of opportunity to halt the spread of the deadly disease, which has so far killed more than 5000 people in West Africa, is closing fast.

Mr Cameron, who will address the Australian parliament on Friday before flying to Brisbane, is expected to push for world leaders and partners at the G20, such as Australia, to come up with “concrete plans” for dealing with the crisis.

The development came as Treasurer Joe Hockey on Thursday said Ebola presented a major risk to the global economy, and as health workers on the frontline of the battle against the disease in Liberia made a personal plea to Mr Abbott to offer more help.

The British prime minister, who has been outspoken about what has been viewed as an inadequate response to Ebola, said before he left for Australia that “problems with the global economy and Ebola will be top of the agenda” at the G20 leaders’ meeting.

On Thursday, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond confirmed Mr Cameron would raise the issue with international leaders in Brisbane.

“The prime minister will be pressing G20 members and other partners in Brisbane to take forward concrete actions to address the immediate crisis as well as support for longer-term economic resilience, and strengthen our resolve to prevent future threats to global health security,” Mr Hammond said.

Mr Hockey, during a tour of the G20 HQ in Brisbane, said Ebola was a significant issue.

“It is a risk of course to the African economy as it is to the world economy and leaders and finance ministers will appropriately discuss all the risks, all the risks to the global economy,” he said.

Aid organisation Oxfam said it welcomed the recognition from Mr Hockey that Ebola was a risk to economies beyond Africa.

“It is encouraging to hear the government recognising that Ebola is not just a health crisis, but a serious economic crisis as well,” Oxfam Australia chief executive Dr Helen Szoke said.

But she also warned that the “window of opportunity to bring the spread of Ebola under control is closing fast”.