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Ebola: Liberia Health Workers Threaten to Strike Unless Pay Increase Granted

Medical workers in Liberia are threatening to go on strike if the hazard pay was not increased by £124. The average Liberian health worker’s salary is between £124 to £186 ($200 and $300).

Healthcare workers are at maximum risk of contracting Ebola. Around 200 health workers have been infected in Liberia and nearly 95 have died, reports Al Jazeera.

With personal protective equipment scarce and care centres ill equipped, workers have stayed away from work in many places in the region.

The government had initially agreed to pay around £450 as hazard pay when the first cases were detected but that was when there were fewer centres and health care workers, assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said on Sunday.

The nation now struggles under the huge financial burden which makes it difficult to meet the demands.

Protective suits used by Doctors Without Borders costs around a $100.

Military troops safe

The Pentagon meanwhile has acknowledged the size and duration of the mission in West Africa could go up with military deployments touching 4,000. At present there are a little over 300 US military personnel in west Africa.

The military hopes to have a 25-bed field hospital up and running by the middle of this month as also to quickly put up 17 Ebola treatment units.

As family members of the military staff raised concerns over the safety of the troops, officials have assured them the risk is low. US soldiers will neither be treating sick Liberians nor interacting with them, writes Reuters.

Confirmation that a health worker who treated the deceased Thomas Eric Duncan has contracted Ebola has raised doubts on health protocols being followed in the US.

The worker was infected in spite of wearing CDC-recommended protective gear during treatment, including gowns, gloves, masks and shields.

The Usaid initiative to invite new designs for the protective suit with a half a million pounds prize money is aimed at overcoming these shortcomings.

Poor preparedness?

There is concern that not enough was being done to educate health workers.

“Handing out a piece of paper with a link to the Centers for Disease Control, or telling nurses just to look at the CDC website – as we have heard some hospitals are doing – is not preparedness,” said Bonnie Castillo, a registered nurse and senior official with National Nurses United.

“We don’t know what occurred in the care of the index patient, the original patient, in Dallas, but at some point there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection,” CDC director Dr Thomas Frieden told a news conference.

Duncan was the first case of Ebola contracted outside west Africa.

The Spanish nurse Teresa Romero who contracted Ebola after caring for two infected priests is the other. She is said to be seriously ill but showed signs of improvement.

The death toll from Ebola has crossed 4000 according to WHO on Friday.

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