Health workers defy strike call over Ebola

2014-10-13 19:40
(File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Monrovia - Health workers reported for duty at Liberia's hospitals on Monday, largely defying calls for a strike that could have further hampered the country's ability to respond to the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Nurses and other health workers - though not doctors - had threatened to strike if they did not receive the higher hazard pay they had been promised by the government. That would have made the already difficult care of Ebola patients even harder, since the bulk of the staff at clinics and hospitals is made up of Liberia's nurses, physician assistants and community health workers.

The outbreak has also reduced access to health care for those with other diseases because many hospitals and clinics have shut, often because their staff are afraid to come to work or are not sufficiently trained to handle a patient with Ebola if one arrives.

In Guinea, a private clinic that served much of the city's elite, including many expatriates, stopped accepting new patients a few days ago after a woman there showed symptoms of Ebola. The woman never went past the lobby of the clinic, a statement from the medical centre  in the capital Conakry said on Monday and the area she was in has been disinfected and sealed off.

Patients who were already inside the clinic are still being cared for and are at no risk, the statement said, since they never had any contact with the woman.

Highest toll

Doctors Without Borders is following up with anyone the woman came into contact with. She is now being treated for Ebola at a hospital, the statement said.

The Ebola outbreak that was first identified in March in Guinea has hammered Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

About 8 400 people are believed to have caught the disease. Liberia has recorded the highest death toll with more than 2 300 deaths linked to the virus.

Health care workers in West Africa are particularly vulnerable, working in overcrowded wards, often without proper protective gear and not enough staff. About 400 health care workers have become infected in this outbreak, nearly half of those in Liberia.

Read more on:    ebola  |  liberia  |  west africa

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