Major health facilities in Bong County, including Phebe and the C. B. Dunbar Maternity Hospitals, have closed down due to the absence of health workers.
In an interview with the Daily Observer on Tuesday, July 29, in Gbarnga, the Chairman of the National Health Workers Association of Liberia Bong County Chapter, Madam Martha Morris, said health workers planned to stay away from work as the result of the lack of protective gears to work with.
Ms. Morris told this paper that the workers had decided to institute the measure in order to claim the attention of health authorities and other relevant agencies to supply the needed equipment that would enable them (health workers) to return to duty.
She indicated that in the absence of the protective equipment, other public health posts in the county may subsequently close their doors to the public.
“I am afraid if the health facilities are [closed] in the county, it may lead to loss of lives,” the health practitioner emphasized.
Miss Morris said her organization is also drawing government’s attention to the idea of relocating the isolation ward from the Phebe Hospital, which she said would help protect patients and health workers from easily contracting the hemorrhagic fever.
The Bong County Chairman of the Health Workers asserted that if health workers are protected, they will regain their confidence to return to their various health facilities that are currently closed across the county due to the Ebola epidemic in the country.
“Government and its partners need to pay more attention to protect health care workers in the country because they are the front liners in the fight against the Ebola disease, and they are at high risk of contracting the virus,” Miss Morris pointed out.
When this paper contacted the County Health Officer Dr. Sampson Azoakoi, he said the hospitals were not closed to the public but admitted that health care workers were waiting to observe how the dust of the Ebola would settle and whether they would receive some protective equipment to work with.
If what this reporter observed at the hospitals in Bong County is anything to go by, it would be disastrous for patients if the health workers' stay-away continues through the end of this week.
There have been no reports of deaths at the various hospitals and clinics in Bong County since four nurses died last week as the result of the hemorrhagic Ebola fever.
At the C. B. Dunbar, the only maternal and neo-natal hospital in Bong County, it was established that pregnant women in critical condition were turned away by security guards because there was no sign of doctors being present at the hospital.
At the same time some citizens who spoke to this paper described the decision by the Government of Liberia to close its borders with neighboring countries as late and untimely.
They told this reporter that the border closures should have taken place when the deadly disease Ebola was reported in neighboring Guinea.
The current outbreak of Ebola in West Africa is now the largest in history with more than one thousand cases and 660 deaths, while more than 240 cases and 129 deaths have occurred in Liberia alone.