MONROVIA, Liberia — Some nurses in Liberia defied calls for a strike on Monday and turned up for work at hospitals amid the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
In view of the danger of their work, members of the National Health Workers Association are demanding higher monthly hazard pay. The association has more than 10,000 members, though the health ministry says only about 1,000 of those are employed at sites receiving Ebola patients.
Some nurses were turning up for work Monday, according to Gobee Logan, a doctor at a government hospital in Tubmanburg, 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the capital of Monrovia.
Ebola is believed to have killed more than 4,000 people in West Africa, and Liberia has recorded the highest death toll.
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, like blood and vomit, putting health workers at particular risk. With many treatment centers overflowing with patients, those providing care and with often inadequate protective gear have become infected in large numbers. The latest World Health Organization toll said about 400 health workers have contracted the disease, nearly half of those in Liberia.
The hardest hit countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea had too few health workers even before the outbreak began, and infections among health workers has only further hampered their ability to respond.
The call to strike was for nurses, physician assistants, lab technicians and other health workers, but not doctors.