Ebola: Liberian nurses strike over lack of protective equipment

Tuesday, September 2, 2014
By Paul Martin

Nurses at Monrovia’s John F Kennedy hospital say they will not return to work until they get protective suits and better pay

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Nurses at Liberia’s largest hospital have gone on strike, demanding better pay and equipment to protect them against the Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the west African state.

John Tugbeh, spokesman for the strikers at John F Kennedy hospital in Monrovia, said the nurses would not return to work until they were supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE), the hazardous material-style suits which guard against infectious diseases.

“From the beginning of the Ebola outbreak we have not had any protective equipment to work with. As result, so many doctors got infected by the virus. We have to stay home until we get the PPEs,” Tugbeh said.

The Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has killed more than 1,500 people in four countries since the start of the year – almost 700 of them in Liberia.

A high proportion of the deaths – almost a tenth – have been among health workers. The World Health Organisation has warned that the outbreak is set to worsen, predicting up to 20,000 cases before it is brought under control.

The surgical section at the JFK hospital is the only trauma referral centre in Liberia and a long-term industrial dispute would severely damage the country’s ability to respond to the Ebola crisis.

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