Ebola: Health Workers Scared, Flee Hospital


Afraid of contracting the Ebola virus, health workers at the Yaba Mainland Hospital, Lagos have been running away from patients isolated in the hospital, thus putting intense pressure on the few ones still treating victims.Some of them are already avoiding the patients like a plague. As a result of this development, hospital sources said the few health workers available have been working for 24 hours in order to take care of patients in the isolated area.

Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Jide Idris, said that people in the isolation ward could die if they were not well managed, adding that government needed more hands.

Identifying lack of adequate health officials as a major challenge to containing the spread of the virus, he said, “Because of the fear of Ebola, everybody seems to be scared, nobody wants to assist, which is a major challenge.

“It is even more so for the treatment isolation ward. It’s a major problem because a lot of people ran away, especially when the nurse died.”

One of the senior medical practitioners in the hospital confided in one of our correspondents that his family members who currently reside abroad had been putting pressure on him to resign his appointment to prevent him from contracting the deadly virus.

He also said that the doctors’ strike had been putting pressure on the available personnel to work more than the mandatory eight hours.

He said, “The pressure is too much for us; we have been working for 24 hours instead of the statutory eight hours because of inadequate manpower as a result of the ongoing doctors’ strike and other health workers that have been reluctant to move near the patients.”

He said, “We have been relying on volunteers who have been helping us to carry out some of our responsibilities here. Our family members too have been panicking and putting pressure on us as a result of our insistence to continue to manage the carriers of Ebola virus; they are nursing the fear that we may contract the disease as many of them have insisted that we resign our appointments.

“One major aspect of the issue is the stigmatisation. Our neighbours have also been stigmatising us; they believe that because of the fact that Ebola patients are being managed here, they think we might have contracted the virus.”

He said the efforts to prevent the spread would have been completely defeated if not for some volunteers who had been assisting in managing those infected with the Ebola virus.

The senior health worker, who likened the challenge to a war situation in which reserved soldiers were mobilised to participate in fierce battle, said that it would require effective and co-ordinated effort to manage the patients as well as prevent the spread of the virus.

The senior health worker, however, recalled that some hospitals had been misdiagnosing patients suffering from severe malarial as contracting Ebola virus.

He particularly mentioned the case of a malarial patient who was referred to the Mainland Hospital by another hospital on the suspicion that he had contracted the Ebola virus.

He said, “Immediately the malaria patient was brought here on the suspicion that he had contracted Ebola virus, we treated him for three hours after which he requested for eba (Garri). The following day, the boy ate rice and plantain before we discharged him.”

Though he said the Lagos State Government had provided every necessary support to prevent the outbreak of the virus, one of our correspondents noticed that water was still a major problem at the Mainland Hospital as some junior workers were seen during a visit to the hospital carrying buckets filled with water from one location to another.

The workers were also seen wearing protective face masks.