Thursday, October 9, 2014

Despite precautions

Ebola: How Health Workers On West Africa Frontline Are Paying With Their Lives 

Vigil in Abuja for Ebola victim
Photo:  Afolabi Sotunde
By Monica Mark, Oct. 8, 2014,

The day, 21 July, began like any other Monday for Ameyo Adadevoh, a doctor in Africa’s most populous city, Lagos. In a crowded midtown district, the usual jumble of patients awaited at the hospital where Adadevoh was known to sometimes give free drugs to those who could not afford it. Among them was a patient who had been wheeled in the previous evening, feverish and vomiting, diagnosed with severe malaria.

In fact, Liberian-American civil servant Patrick Sawyer had slipped through three layers of security – a quarantine order, and airport checks in Liberia and Nigeria – intended to stem an outbreak in three west African countries. Within 24 hours, he became Nigeria’s Ebola patient zero, the small hospital was forced to become a makeshift Ebola ward, and Adadevoh, an endocrinologist, found herself thrust into the role of stopping the disease’s spread in the continent’s most populous country.

That Nigeria has so far emerged relatively unscathed from its brush with Ebola owes much to the quick-thinking staff at an ordinary family clinic, who put themselves in the firing line for six days before the government was ready to relocate him. And, as elsewhere in this epidemic, those on the frontline paid the highest price: four of the seven fatalities were health workers, including Adadevoh.

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