Dr. Atai Omurutu, head doctor at the Island Clinic Ebola treatment unit, has raised an alarm over the disturbing incidents of male Ebola survivors infecting their partners and putting entire families at risk.
Dr. Omurutu said wives of male survivors are being admitted to the facility because they have contracted the disease from their partners.
She appealed to the Ministry of Health for condoms to be given to male survivors in order to stop this mode of transmission of the Ebola virus.
She disclosed this new wave of infection to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when the President toured the Island Clinic ETU and the Alpha OAU ETU in Tweh Farm and Virginia, respectively.
Dr. Omurutu, a Ugandan doctor, stated that once a person survives Ebola, they still have the virus in their semen for up to three months, therefore it is extremely important that male survivors abstain from sex during that period or use a condom to avoid infecting their partner. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the Eola virus is still active in male survivors for at 82 days.
Dr. Omurutu, who is expected to return to Uganda next week, hoped that Liberia will have an Ebola-free Christmas, which President Sirleaf has envisaged. The Ugandan doctor said Island Clinic has played a very big role in the reduction of Ebola transmission because of its location in the middle of hotspots such as West Point, New Kru Town, St. Paul’s Bridge and Brewerville.
In continuation of her visits to various Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs), President Sirleaf expressed delight that all the ETUs around Monrovia are experiencing a drastic decline in patient intake. However, she continues to warn Liberians to follow the advice and measures specified by healthcare workers in order to break the transmission of the disease, as there are still hotspots.
The President yesterday visited the 96-bed Alpha OAU Ebola Center in Virginia and the 100-bed Island Clinic Ebola Center near St. Paul’s Bridge, Bushrod Island to assess conditions there and to thank healthcare workers, partners, and volunteers for their services to the country especially in the fight against the Ebola virus disease.
At the Alpha OAU Ebola Center in Virginia, near Hotel Africa, the head of the ETU, Dr. Jonathan Hart, informed the President that the ETU commenced operations two weeks ago. With a total of 80 staff, the Alpha ETU currently hosts 20 suspected patients most of whom have been there for a week.
Responding to the Liberian leader’s question about constraints, Dr. Hart, who previously worked at ELWA-2, appealed for more clothing, including blankets, beddings, pampers, etc. and supplements like biscuits, juices, etc. “We need to make sure our patients are rehydrated constantly and adequately or else they will die from dehydration and not Ebola,” he said. He also appealed for transportation for the staff as the ETU has only one vehicle that serves all purposes.
Speaking to the staff, President Sirleaf thanked the healthcare workers for serving their country during this difficult time and working with this kind of disease. She thanked them for their commitment and dedication.
At the Island Clinic Ebola Treatment Unit, the head of the clinical team, Dr. David Kaggwa provided President Sirleaf with the statistics since the ETU opened in late September. They have seen 1,015 patients to date while 582 were confirmed with the disease. A total of 301 deaths occurred at the ETU and the survival rate there is between 50 and 55 percent.
Dr. Kaggwa reiterated that there is a decline in the cases of Ebola being treated at the unit. He noted, “We are operating below 50 patients because shortly we will be discharging 28 patients – 22 Ebola survivors and six were tested negative twice. This means we will be operating below 30 patients.”
President Sirleaf later interacted with 28 patients that were about to be discharged from the Center.
During the President’s interaction with health workers at the ETU, a number of concerns raised including outstanding hazard allowances, contractors still to receive pay for two months, workers with expired contracts still hoping to be transferred to other facilities, transportation for workers, among others.
The Red Cross workers, for their part, appealed to President Sirleaf to visit their office at the old Ministry of Health where they would like to discuss issues with her privately. She readily accepted their invitation.
In response, the Liberian leader appealed to the health workers to have patience and promised to raise their concerns with the Ministry of Health in order to resolve the issues. With regards to outstanding arrears owed the healthcare workers, she assured them that they will receive their salaries that they diligently worked for. “Once you sign a contract, you’ll have to get paid no doubt about that,” she assured.