School of Public Health and Community Medicine

UNSW students and staff unite against Ebola

Image - UNSW students and staff unite against Ebola

Every time one of her four-year-old twins develops a fever in Ebola-hit northern Liberia, UNSW postgraduate health student Samretta Caldwell fears the worst.

The registered nurse arrived in Australia to study a Master of International Public Health and Health Management at UNSW. Two months later the deadly West African Ebola outbreak hit, devastating her native Nimba County.

Caldwell, a clinical nurse who worked on Liberia’s national HIV control program, says the waiting, and feeling of helplessness, is the worst part.

Determined to take action as the news from home worsens, Caldwell and her fellow students and staff from the School of Public Health and Medicine have come together to form the UNSW Alliance Against Ebola in order to raise funds and increase public awareness about the devastating haemorrhagic fever.

The school is home to 12 postgraduate students from West Africa, with most supported by Australian government scholarships.

The Alliance will officially launch this Thursday, 23 October with a fundraising Day of Action that will include a documentary screening and expert talks, including a doctor recently returned from the Ebola frontlines.

All funds raised will go to Médecins Sans Frontières – Doctors Without Borders – for beds, food, disinfectants, rehydration solutions, and personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare workers.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most devastating in history. The spiralling epidemic is a global health catastrophe in which we are all stakeholders. Controlling the epidemic at the source is the highest priority.

UNSW professor of infectious diseases epidemiology Raina Macintyre has been vocal about the current outbreak and guidelines for health workers, warning that not enough is known about the current strain’s methods of transmission.

“Ebola is a global public health catastrophe, and it is urgent that we work together in the global community to end this epidemic,” she says.

What: Day of Action and fundraising campaign – UNSW Alliance Against Ebola

When: Thursday 23 October from 2pm – see the full program

Where: Library lawn, UNSW Kensington campus

More information is available at the School of Public Health and Medicine website

Media contact: Linda McSweeny / Lissa Christopher, UNSW Media Office, 9385 8920