Friday, October 24, 2014

Ebola workers urge safety, solidarity

IRIN: Hanna Majanen summed it up best: "It is the things you do automatically that are difficult. People will touch their face, rub their eyes and bite their fingernails. These are the things you forget.”

As medical focal point for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Liberia, Majanen is well-versed in the rules and recommendations laid down by the organization for its frontline workers treating Ebola patients.

MSF, along with organizations like the World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has urged health workers to get as close as they can to a "zero risk" working environment. That means not only following strict procedures on wearing personal protection equipment (PPE) and ensuring maximum standards of hygiene in every aspect of work, but ensuring psychological back-up for those treating Ebola patients, and limiting rotations.

The US-based NGO International Medical Corps (IMC), expanding its Ebola activities in Liberia, provides a five-day pre-deployment training programme for recruits with a strong focus on PPE, emphasizing that IMC prides itself on taking care of the "wellness, safety and security of all individuals".

 Health workers have always been among the fatalities in Ebola outbreaks, notably in Sudan and the then Zaire where the virus first came to light in 1976. But the West Africa epidemic highlighted their extreme vulnerability. According to WHO, in its Ebola Response Roadmap Situation Report for 8 October, some 401 health workers had contracted Ebola, with 232 confirmed or suspected deaths…

A new Ebola isolation war in Lagos, shot by Bryan Christensen, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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