Via IRIN: Fighting Ebola “by the grace of God”. Excerpt:
Panicked and shocked Liberian health workers who have seen their colleagues die of Ebola, which has killed more than 500 people in West Africa since January, are abandoning their work stations, hoping to resume only when the disease subsides.
Their frustrations have been compounded by the lack of adequate medical equipment. Those who remain at work face a heavier workload. The authorities say they are conducting training and supplying equipment to bolster Ebola control.
“We have many challenges at this local health centre,” said McFarland Kerkulah, a doctor at Dolo health centre in Margibi County, some 50km northwest of the capital Monrovia. “We lack gloves, goggles, chlorine and other disinfectant materials. There is nothing that has been put in place by the government.”
“We are just managing by the grace of God. We are very scared because if you tell us to fight Ebola or prevent it, what materials do we use? None of us has been trained to fight the disease,” Kerkulah told IRIN.
The Dolo health centre recently lost a doctor and a nurse to Ebola, which had killed 539 people and infected 888 in Liberia and in neighbouring Guinea and Sierra Leone by 10 July, according to World Health Organization (WHO). Ebola’s spread is mainly being driven by some cultural practices among rural communities such as burial rituals, high population density around the capitals of the three West African countries, as well as cross-border movement, WHO said.
At least five major hospitals and health centres in Monrovia have reported a decline in manpower, but Tolbert Nyenswah, the assistant health minister for preventive services, said they were working to return to full service.
“The stay-away is affecting other ill people. They need to return to work. Things are getting better with the education and training we are providing. This will make them return. We understand their fears, but they need to come back to work.”
A nurse at Redemption Hospital, a referral hospital in Monrovia, said: “I am afraid to die. Our friends died and their families did not receive any compensation from the government. It means that if I die too that will be the end. I am very scared and have decided to stay home.”
“To be frank, I am actually scared. I am a father of six and I don’t want to die and leave my children behind now. And so I have decided to stay at home with the family for now. When things improve, I will get back to my job,” said a laboratory technician who also spoke to IRIN on condition of anonymity.