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A regional conference to devise urgent interventions to address the situation of health and allied care workers against the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) has taken place in Accra.
The conference, organized by the Public Services International (PSI), a global trades union federation, was attended by trades union representatives from 18 countries.
The countries were Nigeria, Algeria, Tunisia, Botswana, South Africa, France, Tanzania, Swaziland, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.
The others were Senegal, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana.
The objective of the conference was to accelerate efforts at EVD containment, lobby for the improvement and expansion of public health systems and to sensitize health and allied care workers to be extra cautious when handling Ebola patients.
In a presentation on PSI response to the outbreak of EVD, Mr Jasper Goss, disclosed that an EVD Trade Union Intervention Strategy 2014 had been devised to help contain the spread of the disease.
For his part, Mr Richard Amparbeng, PSI, Ghana, said the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimated that adequate health systems required 41 health workers per 10,000 people, yet the number of health workers per 10,000 people in the EVD-affected countries were many times less.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), so far, 15,935 confirmed, probable and suspected cases of EVD have been reported in six affected countries with 5,689 reported deaths.
The countries are Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone, Spain and the United States of America and two previously affected countries namely Nigeria and Senegal up to the end of November 23.
Among the casualties are 325 health workers, including members of PSI-affiliated unions, who had been killed in the line of duty— the primary reasons for the deaths of whom have been inadequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), inadequately safe working environments, substandard infrastructure, over-exposure to hazardous environments (a consequence of understaffing) and a complete lack of adequate resources to deal with the scale of infections.
Furthermore, according to reports, health workers who have died are not being covered by (already severely inadequate) social security systems and their families (if they have survived) are left destitute.
PSI represents 20 million working women and men who deliver vital public services in 154 countries.
Represented by 669 unions, PSI champions human rights, advocates for social justice and promotes universal access to quality public services. PSI works with the United Nations system and in partnership with labour, civil society and other organizations.
PSI is dedicated to promoting quality public services in every part of the world, with its members, two-thirds of whom are women working in social services, health care, municipal and community services, central government and public utilities such as water and electricity.
Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)