Originally published September 3 2014
In Liberia doctors go on strike against food shortages and unpaid wages as Ebola spreads beyond control
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Conditions are rapidly deteriorating in the West African country of Liberia, one of the hardest-hit countries during the worst Ebola outbreak in recorded history. Reports indicate that healthcare workers at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, recently went on strike in protest of poor or no wages, as well as food shortages that have left them and their families hungry.
The largest referral hospital in the country, JFK has been treating Ebola patients for many months now, resulting in some workers at the facility coming down with the disease themselves. But amidst all the panic from the crisis, employees at the hospital who have been in the trenches dealing with the epidemic since the start are not even receiving fair wages for their work, causing even more chaos.
According to Reuters, workers at JFK have gone without pay for about two months. Other hospitals, including an Ebola clinic in nearby Sierra Leone, have also not been paying their workers. The result is that many medical staff are simply walking off the job, leaving infected patients with no recourse.
"Health workers have died (fighting Ebola), including medical doctors at... JFK and to have them come to work without food on their table, we think that is pathetic," stated George Williams, secretary general of the Health Workers Association of Liberia, to Reuters about the situation.
Current Ebola outbreak 'different' from previous ones; disease spreading widely and rapidly Officials in the U.S. and elsewhere have called for reinforcements to stymie the uncontrolled spread of Ebola in West Africa. But the situation is already so severe that U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden told the media that the "window is closing" to halt a global pandemic.
"This is different [from] every other Ebola situation we've ever had," he told the media from his agency's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. "It's spreading widely, throughout entire countries, through multiple countries, in cities and very fast."
Frieden says more resources and personnel need to be sent to the most stricken areas, noting that the U.S. government has already brought in about 70 people of its own. But with ongoing strikes due to lack of pay, and food shortages resulting in major price hikes, it may already be too late to fully contain the fallout from this burgeoning crisis.
"Six months into the worst Ebola epidemic in history, the world is losing the battle to contain it," added Joanne Liu, president of Doctors Without Borders, one of the groups actively working to contain Ebola in West Africa. "Ebola treatment centers are reduced to places where people go to die alone, where little more than palliative care is offered."
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), nearly 80 health workers have been killed by Ebola since the start of the current outbreak last December. Collectively, there have been nearly 2,300 probable, suspected and confirmed deaths from Ebola through September 5, reports BBC News.
Meanwhile, a new study suggests that Ebola will eventually strike the U.S. and other countries in the coming months. The countries of Ghana, the UK, the Gambia, the Ivory Coast and Belgium are believed to have the highest risk of importing at least one case of Ebola by September 22, and the U.S. has about an 18 percent chance of importing Ebola as of September 7.
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