Ebola: PSI urges G20 to act on public healthcare

10 November 2014
Health workers fighting Ebola in Guinea (Photo: European Commission)
On the eve of G20 in Brisbane, PSI is briefing Australia's public sector unions and urging the G20 to implement promised measures to make large multinational corporations pay fair tax.

“The dire consequences of the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak are symptoms of decades of lack of investment in public sector health.”

This is how Abdul Rafiu Alani Adeniji, President of the National Association of Nigerian Nurse and Midwives (NANNM) commented on the Ebola situation in West Africa, briefing public sector unions at the Australian Nurses and Midwives Federation offices in Adelaide, on the eve of G20 in Brisbane.

In a meeting organised by Public Services International (PSI), a global union that represents over 20million workers worldwide, Mr Adeniji also explained “Ebola has taken a terrible toll on health workers of West Africa. By the end of October, 269 health care workers have died from the disease in countries where health care workers are already in tragically short supply, and at least a further 250 health care workers are known to be already ill with the disease.”

The primary reasons for the deaths of health workers have been inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE), inadequately safe working environments, substandard infrastructure, over-exposure to hazardous environments (a consequence of understaffing) and a complete lack of adequate resources to deal with the scale of infections.

Daniel Bertossa, Director of Policy at PSI, said that he will be urging the G20 to implement promised measures to make large multinational corporations pay fair tax.

Mr Bertossa said “there is no excuse for the lack of funding to health care when multinational corporations continue to dodge tax across the globe.”

“The G20 Leaders statement from St Petersburg in September 2013 identified this as a problem saying “Tax avoidance, harmful practices and aggressive tax planning have to be tackled” and must now deliver on that promise.”

Mr Bertossa said that some of the largest multinational companies in the world pay little or no tax.

“There is an estimated $10 trillion stashed in tax havens coming from the world’s poorest countries alone - while these governments struggle to pay for basic health and education”.

“When IKEA Australia can log $4.76 Billion in revenue in the last twelve years but only pay $31 million in taxes something is very wrong.” 

“If these companies paid their fair share of taxes Australians would not have to introduce co-payments or raise the GST and West Africans could fund a health system that could beat Ebola.”

Mr Adeniji and Mr Bertossa will also visit the Emergency Department of the Royal Adelaide Hospital this morning to discuss Ebola preparations and visit the ANMF Education Centre.

On Thursday 13th they will meet public sector unions and the Queensland Nurses' Union where they will speak at a forum “When profits come first – The true impacts of health privatisation.”

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