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Survivors infect wives -WHO alarms

The World Health Organization (WHO) has alarmed of a disturbing trend of male Ebola survivors returning from ETUs infecting their wives thru sex, thus “keeping the epidemic growing now.”

The practice is in gross disregard of advice from health authorities for survivors to abstain from sexual intercourse for at least three months.

The WHO’s Case Management Consultant to Liberia, running the Island Clinic ETU on Bushrod Island, Dr. Atai Omurutu, told President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf on Wednesday, November 26, 2014 that “we need condoms freely distributed in the communities to all the male survivors.”

“There is only one disturbing trend; and that’s the male survivors- all their wives are coming back as patients. So we need condoms freely distributed in the communities to all the male survivors,” Dr. Omurutu said.

President Sirleaf was paid visits at the Island Clinic ETU; the Unity Conference Center ETU in Hotel Africa and several other facilities on Wednesday. Dr. Omurutu said male Ebola survivors “have the virus for three months from the time they become negative in the blood… so that’s what [is] keeping the epidemic growing now.”

Despite informing all Ebola survivors to keep away from their wives or husbands for three months before being discharged from ETUs, the WHO says “but they still go home and [act against the advice].”

Earlier, WHO’s Dr. David Kaggwa summarized a data in which he said the ETU has received 1,015 patients so far, and of those, he said 582 patients were confirmed to have Ebola. He said survival rate there was at 40 to 55 percent. He however said the trend here is coming down, and the center is now operating below 50 patients, adding that they hope to discharge about 22 patients.

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In another development, local health workers at the Island Clinic ETU have expressed disappointment in the Ministry of Health and the Government in general, complaining of pay and hazard benefits, and transportation, especially with fears among them that the ETU is allegedly heading for closure.

Jeremiah Taryalway, one of the recruits, who claimed they were downsized after training and allegedly working for two months, but got no further transfer to work owing to a vast Ebola decline, complained of not receiving pay for September and October.

The main spokesperson for the aggrieved health workers, Sediki Sannoh, however, said they were making sacrifice on the job for the sake of their mothers, sisters and brothers lying in ETUs, though he told the President there was need for some level of motivation to be given them.

Mr. Sannoh praised the WHO’s consultant at the ETU, Dr. Omurutu for encouraging them to work “even if there’s no pay,” as there would be no one to work for Liberia other than Liberians themselves. “And because of that statement, it sounds in our ear; but our government, our Health Minister is disappointing us… Madam President, we need your help. Please try to talk to us,” Mr. Sannoh pleaded with President Sirleaf.

Responding, President Sirleaf first thanked the health workers for their work, and said she was taking the issues they raised back to the Health Ministry to see that something is done to resolve their concerns.

She assured that they will receive their pay, and further told those complaining of being downsized that while they may not necessarily work in ETUs, they could be trained and sent to other sectors in clinics or hospitals to treat regular patients. Also, authorities at the Island Clinic ETU dismissed fears of closing down, except that they acknowledged a reduction of staff was being done owing to decline in infection.

Mr.  Omurutu said, “It is important that Island Clinic stays” because it played a very big role in the reduction of Ebola due to its location, saying, “we are located in the middle of the hot spots- West Point, New Kru Town [and] St. Paul Bridge.”

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