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Citizens demand more ‘empowerment’ for health workers

OCTOBER 16, 2014 By Regina Pratt

Some residents of Freetown have urged the government to do more to empower health workers in the fight against the deadly Ebola virus.

Many who spoke to this reporter commended the government for what it has done so far for health workers, but said more remains to be done.

Ibrahim Barrie, a garage mechanic at Bass Street, Brookfields, said he is unhappy that the figures keep rising on a daily basis in the capital Freetown, which now tops the national figure on cumulative confirmed cases at 723, surpassing Kailahun and Kenema which have recorded 536 and 458 respectively, according to a release by the Emergency Operations Centre on 15 October.

“What I think we need now is Allah’s intervention so that the virus will not spread further as the city is overcrowded. The government needs to find new ways of fighting this deadly virus,” he said and called for the empowerment of frontline health workers in the fight, although he did not elaborate which kind of ‘empowerment’ they should be given.

Already, government pays special risk allowances to all categories of health workers directly involved in the Ebola fight, although many have complained that the money is either too small or is not paid on time. Last week, members of the Ebola burial teams in the Western Area threatened to down tools, claiming they were owed two weeks wages.

Taxi driver Eddie Mohamed expressed concern about the way and manner in which the Ebola virus is affecting health workers, especially those that are handling Ebola victims.

According to him, health workers, including doctors and nurses, are the soldiers in the frontline of the fight against an unknown enemy, which is why they need to be fully equipped with the necessary equipment to do their job more effectively and efficiently.

“Our nurses and doctors should be fully equipped so that they will not stay away from the hospitals for fear of being victims of the Ebola virus disease,” he said.

His plea for more equipment to be provided for health workers is not farfetched as dozens of health workers, including four doctors, have lost their lives in the battle to eradicate Ebola in the country.

Also, an Okada rider, Momoh Conteh, said he was saddened by the fact that the city continues to record new cases of Ebola on a daily basis. He added: “I am scared when I hear the figures for Freetown on the radio.”

Conteh urged the government to design another strategy and step up its effort in the Ebola fight.

A Community Health Officer who preferred anonymity disclosed that government has already provided health incentives for them even though they are yet to receive it.

However, the doctor in charge of the Kingharman Road Satellite Hospital could not respond to some of the issues raised by some Freetown residents this reporter spoke to, saying “we are in a crisis”.

The hospital was virtually empty; our reporter says there was no sign of pregnant women, lactating mothers and other patients in the hospital which used to treat hundreds of patients each day before the outbreak.