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Article sheds light on Ebola healthcare workers’ high fatality rate

An Oct. 3 TIME article discusses the high death rate for local healthcare workers in West Africa who are treating patients infected with the Ebola virus disease. According to the article, the high rate may be due, in part, to a lack of resources that prevent African healthcare workers — who form the bulk of the Ebola aid teams in the region — from being evacuated to Europe or the U.S. for treatment. This is in contrast to the medical evacuation systems in place for Western healthcare workers.

“While one would think that healthcare workers, of all people, would be less likely to succumb to Ebola if they contracted the virus, the fatality rate of Ebola-infected healthcare workers is a stunning 57%, according to WHO’s (the World Health Organization) most recent data,” the article stated.

The lack of facilities to treat healthcare workers may be compounding the problem. “[The discrepancy in fatality rates] is a natural occurrence, because healthcare workers are the ones who are dealing with patients infected with Ebola,” WHO spokesman Daniel Epstein said in the article. “We haven’t had good enough facilities in the countries to treat healthcare workers themselves.”

Many of the healthcare workers, who are citizens of Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea, are not affiliated with large healthcare organizations like WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières, and are working in clinics that lack personnel and proper supplies. WHO and MSF have suffered just a few losses in the more than 200 healthcare worker deaths, according to the article. WHO can evacuate its own staff if they become infected with Ebola, but cannot provide the same service to local workers. “We’re not the emergency evacuation service,” Epstein said in the article. “We barely have enough money to send people out as it is.”

According to the article, of the three main Ebola-affected countries, Sierra Leone has the highest healthcare worker fatality rate of 71%, more than twice the country’s overall case fatality rate of 27%. Healthcare worker fatality rates in Liberia and Guinea are 51% and 52%, respectively, which are lower than the countries’ overall fatality rates.

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By | 2014-10-10T00:00:00-04:00 October 10th, 2014|Categories: National|0 Comments

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