Ebola crisis: Sierra Leone health workers go on strike

More than 400 health workers involved in treating Ebola patients have gone on strike at a clinic in Sierra Leone. The staff, who include nurses, porters and cleaners, are protesting about the government’s failure to pay an agreed weekly $100 (£63) “hazard payment”. The clinic, in Bandajuma near Bo, is the only Ebola treatment centre in southern Sierra Leone. In Mali, a nurse and the patient he was treating earlier became the second and third people to die from Ebola there.

Nearly 5,000 people have been killed in the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the outbreak a global health emergency. The Bandajuma clinic is run by medical charity MSF, which said it would be forced to close the facility if the strike continued. MSF’s emergency co-ordinator in Sierra Leone, Ewald Stars, told the BBC that about 60 patients had been left unattended because of the strike at the clinic in Bandajuma.

There are international staff at the clinic but they are unable to keep the clinic open on their own. Mohamed Mbawah, a representative of the striking Sierra Leonean staff, told the BBC his colleagues had already turned away one ambulance. The staff, who are protesting outside the clinic, say the government agreed to the “hazard payments” when the facility was established but has failed to make any payments since September. The money was due to be paid in addition to salaries the staff receive from MSF. Earlier, the Malian authorities confirmed that a nurse and the patient he was treating at a clinic in Bamako had died.

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