December 20, 2014
Health workers strike at major Ebola clinic in Sierra Leone
Health workers have gone on strike at a major state-run Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone, hospital staff told reporters today, a further blow to efforts to contain the deadly virus.
Faced with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, West African governments have struggled to find an effective response. More than 1,550 people have died from the hemorrhagic fever since it was first detected in the forests of Guinea in March.
Transmitted through the blood, sweat and vomit of the sick, Ebola has spread quickly among health care workers who often lack the equipment to protect themselves from the virus.
Ishmael Mehemoh, chief supervisor at the Kenema clinic in eastern Sierra Leone, said the facility has only one stretcher. He said the stretcher, which is broken, is used to carry both patients and corpses, raising the risk of infection.
In a further sign of strained resources, nurses and members of the burial team at Kenema said the government had stopped paying their wages of $50 a week.
There is only one other Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone in Kailahun, and the World Health Organization shut the laboratory there this week and withdrew staff after one of its health workers caught the virus there.
So far more than 120 healthworkers have died from the virus across the region. In Kenema alone, 26 staff members have already died from Ebola following the death of physician Dr. Sahr Rogers.
"It is with a deep sense of sadness that we have lost one of our finest physicians in the line of duty at a time like when we need a lot of them to help in out fight against Ebola," said Sierra Leone's new health minister Abubakarr Fofana today.
His predecessor Miatta Kargbo was sacked the previous day over her handling of the Ebola outbreak.