Health Facilities Operate Poorly 2 Years after Ebola

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More than two years after the world’s worst Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, health facilities in Liberia are still struggling to operate due to the lack of running water and functioning toilets, sanitation charity WaterAid said on Friday.

In the West Point slum near Monrovia, which was quarantined during the Ebola epidemic, health workers say water shortages and overflowing toilets are putting patients at risk of infection and disease, according to WaterAid.

Nurses have to stop mid-treatment to fetch water and patients have to relieve themselves in dirty fields outside health centers, the Britain-based charity said.

Liberia was declared free of the deadly hemorrhagic fever for the fourth time in June this year. The epidemic killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2013.

“Many of the healthcare workers who fought so valiantly to save lives are today working in conditions which are very little changed: an unreliable water supply, backed-up toilets and incinerators that don’t work,” said Kate Norgrove of WaterAid.

“This situation leaves doctors, nurses, midwives, cleaners and patients alike at serious risk of infection and illness,” the global head of campaigns for WaterAid said in a statement.

Nine in 10 health facilities in Liberia do not meet the health ministry’s standards for water supplies, said WaterAid, which is launching a campaign asking health workers to lobby for better water, sanitation and hygiene around the world.

Nearly four in 10 facilities in low and middle-income countries lack access to water, more than a third do not have soap for hand washing, and a fifth lack adequate sanitation, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). (Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation).

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