|In this Oct. 24, 2014, file photo, members of the Department of Defense's Ebola Military Medical Support Team assist each other with their protective gear during training at San Antonio Military Medical Center in San Antonio. Eric Gay/AP|
Helen BranswellThe Canadian Press
The federal government is spending an extra $30.5 million on programs to shore up Canada’s readiness to deal with Ebola in this country, Health Minister Rona Ambrose said Monday.
While most of the money will be spent in Canada, Ambrose said $3 million of that will go to the World Health Organization to help fund its efforts to fight Ebola in West Africa.
As well, Ambrose said the government will launch a public education campaign this month on Ebola.
“We want Canadians to know the facts about Ebola, how the virus is transmitted, its symptoms and any other information they need to reduce fears of contracting the disease and reducing any stigma to returning aid workers,” she said during a news conference at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg.
Scientists at that lab have made major contributions to the search for vaccines and drugs against Ebola. And rotating teams of workers from the Winnipeg facility have been operating mobile diagnostic laboratories in Sierra Leone since late June.
Ambrose started her remarks by praising the scientists and Canadian health-care workers who have put their own lives in jeopardy by volunteering to assist in the Ebola treatment and containment efforts in West Africa.
“All Canadians are very proud and grateful for the courage and professionalism all health-care professionals have shown in the face of this outbreak. Dedicated aid workers in the Ebola outbreak region in particular are putting their lives on the line to save others. And that is truly noble and commendable,” Ambrose said.
The bulk of the money will be spent on research; $23.5 million of the funding will go to pay for clinical trials of a Canadian-made Ebola vaccine and a type of treatment known as monoclonal antibodies. Some of the money will be used to make supplies of both that can be used for clinical trials and can be stockpiled for used in Canada if the need arises, Ambrose said.
Quarantine services at Canadian international airports are being further beefed up with the injection of an additional $1 million to cover the cost of more quarantine officers.
And $3 million will be used to enhance preparedness work in Canada, including helping provinces and territories to train health workers on infection control practices and to buy protective garb for health workers.
This comes on top of $65 million in funding that the federal government has donated to the WHO, the United Nations and other organizations involved in trying to contain this unprecedented Ebola outbreak. As well, Canada donated $2.5 million worth of personal protective equipment — the head-to-toe garb worn by health-care workers treating Ebola patients.
Canada had some difficulties delivering the protective equipment because few carriers will travel to the affected countries at this point. But Ambrose said Monday all of the material has now been delivered.