January 15, 2015 By Patrick J. Kamara
Chief Executive Officer of the National Ebola Response Center (NERC), Retired Major Palo Conteh, has disclosed to newsmen in Freetown that Ebola frontline workers will henceforth be paid monthly allowances due to incessant strike actions, hazard and complexities of the payment system.
Speaking during the weekly press briefing at the former Special Court site yesterday, Rtd. Major Conteh noted that the payment system to thousands of health workers and ancillary staff helping to defect the Ebola virus continues to pose a challenge to NERC. He said frontline workers were doing a dangerous job and must be compensated for their effort.
“Our healthcare workers are doing a dangerous job and making sacrifices that most of us would not dream of making, and they must get what is due them and they must get it on time,” said the NERC boss. “That is why I’m insisting that we move to monthly payments and start paying people directly to their bank accounts.”
Conteh said that strike actions by health workers must be abandoned as it can lead to further spread of the deadly virus. “Strike actions have the knock-on effect of interrupting the process of removing the sick from the community and essentially allowing Ebola to spread further and infect more people,” he said and urged health workers not to embark on strike actions as it can delay the eradication of the disease.
He reiterated that the second phase of the Western Area Operation Surge, which is scheduled to commence on Monday 19 January, will take a new dimension as they have increased the number of contact tracers, ambulances and surveillance teams. He said the first phase was “a success story” as they were able to take out some 944 sick people of which 263 tested positive for Ebola.
Rtd. Major Conteh further told journalists that there have been reports of Ebola survivors returning home and soon after infecting their partners. He warned that men who recover from the virus should abstain from sex for at least three months as Ebola can still be found in the semen.
He congratulated Pujehun district for their tremendous effort in beating off the virus as it has gone for over 42 days without recording a single confirmed case of Ebola. He however cautioned residents not to be complacent, as their neighbours in Bo and Liberia are still recording positive Ebola cases.