Ebola: Liberian nurses go on strike

Nurses in Liberia’s largest hospital want better pay and equipment to protect themselves against Ebola.

FILE: Patients suffering from Ebola sit at the French NGO MSF's Elwa hospital in Monrovia on 21 August, 2014. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Nurses at Liberia's largest hospital have gone on strike, demanding better pay and equipment to protect themselves against the deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed hundreds in the West African nation.

Earlier on Monday, health experts said doctors and nurses fighting the world's biggest outbreak of the virus in West Africa should get incentives including better pay, insurance and access to the new Ebola drug ZMapp.

The Ebola virus, transmitted through contact with infected bodily fluids, has killed more than 1,500 people in four countries since the start of the year almost 700 of them in Liberia.

A high proportion of the deaths almost a tenth have been among health workers and the World Health Organisation has warned that the outbreak is set to get a lot worse, predicting up to 20,000 cases before it is brought under control.

Meanwhile, a highly anticipated test of an experimental Ebola vaccine will begin this week amid mounting anxiety about the spread of the deadly virus in West Africa.

Researchers in the US have been given the green light to begin what's called a human safety trial.

It will be the first test of this type of Ebola vaccine in humans.

The experimental vaccine will first be given to three healthy human volunteers to see if they suffer any adverse effects.


Nigeria has a third confirmed case of Ebola in the oil hub of Port Harcourt, bringing the country's total confirmed infections to 17, with 271 people under surveillance, the health minister said on Monday.

The figure was revised up from an earlier one of 16, which had been the result of an error in counting.

A doctor in Port Harcourt died last week after treating someone who came in contact of the Liberian-American man who was the first recorded case of the virus in Africa's most populous country. That raised alarm that Ebola, which looked on the verge of being contained in the commercial capital, Lagos, may flare up again elsewhere.

At the same time, the world's "disastrously inadequate response" to West Africa's Ebola outbreak means many people are dying needlessly, the head of the World Bank said on Monday.

In a newspaper editorial, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Western healthcare facilities would easily be able to contain the disease, and urged wealthy nations to share the knowledge and resources to help African countries tackle it.

"The crisis we are watching unfold derives less from the virus itself and more from deadly and misinformed biases that have led to a disastrously inadequate response to the outbreak," Kim wrote in the Washington Post.

"Many are dying needlessly," read the editorial, co-written by Harvard University professor Paul Farmer, with whom Kim founded Partners In Health, a charity that works for better healthcare in poorer countries.