Monrovia – Liberian officials are pleading with nurses and physician assistants to show up to work on Monday amid a dispute over hazard pay that has prompted calls for a strike in the middle of the Ebola epidemic.
Assistant health minister Tolbert Nyenswah said on Sunday the proposed strike would have “very negative consequences” for the fight against Ebola, which is believed to have killed more than 2 300 people in Liberia and more than 4 000 overall.
George Williams, leader of the National Health Workers Association, said members are demanding $700 per month in hazard pay on top of monthly salaries that are generally around $200 or $300. Monthly hazard pay is currently less than $500.
The health ministry says about 1 000 members of the association are working in treatment units across the country.
Pledges of financial aid to fight Ebola have fallen far short of the $1bn needed by the UN, with only one quarter of the amount raised, a UN official said on Friday.
UN deputy secretary general Jan Eliasson also appealed for doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel to come forward to work in desperately needed treatment centres to be set up in West Africa.
On Saturday, the UN special envoy on Ebola said the number of cases is probably doubling every three to four weeks and the response needs to be 20 times greater than it was at the beginning of October.
David Nabarro warned the UN General Assembly on Friday that without the mass mobilisation of the world to support the affected countries in West Africa, “it will be impossible to get this disease quickly under control, and the world will have to live with the Ebola virus forever”.
Nabarro said the UN knows what needs to be done to catch up to and overtake Ebola’s rapid advance “and together we’re going to do it”.
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