Bent Høie of the Conservative party hopes that Norwegian medical staff do not stop going to Ebola infected areas, even though a Norwegian aid worker was diagnosed with the disease at the weekend in West Africa.
'World needs aid workers taking Ebola risk': Høie
Health minister Bent Høie makes his controversial statement at a press conference in Oslo. Photo: Cornelius Poppe / NTB scanpix
7 October 2014
Norway's Minister for Health went on record on Monday to state those who take part in international aid work must run the risk of contracting diseases like Ebola if global society is to survive.
Høie said to NTB: “Global society needs aid workers taking an Ebola risk.”
On Sunday, a Norwegian woman working for Médecins Sans Frontières in Sierra Leone was diagnosed with Ebola. On Monday she was flown to Oslo for treatment.
Høie says: “We are very thankful that Norwegian health workers are taking on the huge task of helping in these areas, and with the risk involved.”
Høie has given the Norwegian Directorate for Health the task of recruiting between 40 and 60 health personnel who will join a taskforce being led by the UK. He hopes that the Norway's first citizen infected by Ebola will not make the job of recruiting personnel more difficult.
“When a Norwegian citizen is infected, it affects all of us. Also, among health personnel, there will be many thinking all of this through more thoroughly now,” said Høie.
He reminded the public that the countries affected by Ebola have limited resources in place to fight the epidemic.
The Minister of Health said: “We have a duty to contribute to the serious situation in which we have now.”
The Norwegian government announced on Monday that it will raise the economic support for fighting Ebola worldwide by 89 million kroner ($14 million) to almost 184 million kroner ($28.5 million).
Expert of Infectious Disease Control, Preben Aavitsland, is a critic of the response from the Norwegian government.
Aavitsland said to NTB: “The effort is too insignificant and comes too late. The government has been too slow.”
Aavitsland, a former state epidemiologist and emergency director in the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said: “The government needs to deploy a system that can recruit Norwegian health personnel, with good salaries and good insurance arrangements. This should have been done a long time ago.”
Høie reacted to the criticism and said: “There’s good reason to evaluate both the efforts of the UN, international organisations and individual nations. The time for it is not now. We will do that when we have control over the situation.”