In Liberia, health unions urge government to tackle Ebola virus

31 July 2014
Group of people in Liberia including two widows mentioned in the article
Following the deaths of two health workers in Liberia, trade unions have called on the government to hold discussions with health workers and reach a joint policy to tackle Ebola and avoid further deaths from the disease.

James Tambah Dahh and Ramuson Tamba Lendan both worked at the Forya-Borm hospital in Lofa County, Northern Liberia. After their death, the West African Health Sector Unions’ Network (WAHSUN) and PSI offered a donation to their widows, Betty Lendan and Agnes Dahh. In Liberia, the government does not offer any compensation and the families are often left without any income. At the donation ceremony on 21 July, Agnes Dahh called on the government to ensure that all health workers are on the government payroll and obtain insurance that includes death benefits.

 “The reason why health workers are dying is that they do not have the necessary protective clothing to deal with the issue while saving lives,” said veteran health advocate, G. Isaac Williams, who is the general secretary of the Private Sector Health Workers Union of Liberia (NPSHWUL). Due to its high contagion rate, medical workers should wear head-to-toe biohazard suits to deal with patients, even after they die.

Baryou Wallace, Chairman of the Collaborating Civil Society & Trade Union Institutions of Liberia (CCTIL) said, “It is disturbing that in this national crisis, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) cannot find the time to discuss with health workers leaders about a way of resolving the crisis, so that together we can all join the fight against the Ebola disease.”

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