Another shipment of life-saving supplies is on the way to Liberia as doctors on the frontlines of the Ebola outbreak report a severe shortage of the most needed items as they work to contain the world’s deadliest Ebola epidemic to date.
John Ly, Medical Director for Last Mile Health – Direct Relief’s partner in Liberia – reported last week that “there is a critical shortage of supplies and health workers are threatening to strike if materials are not available.”
Health facilities on the ground say that health workers will not see patients if they do not feel safe from infection because they lack basic supplies—exam gloves, gowns, masks—even if they are not directly treating Ebola patients, or are in an Ebola-affected area.
Their response is understandable. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that 170 health care workers have been infected by this most recent outbreak, and more than 80 have died.
Losing health workers in West Africa to Ebola carries alarming implications for public health systems going forward. Liberia has 51 doctors for a population of 4.4 million people, according to experts cited in Bloomberg.
To ensure that health workers feel safe and health care services can continue for people in West Africa, Direct Relief is sending a massive air lift of gowns, lab coats, gloves, masks, antibiotics, and oral rehydration solutions valued at more than $337,000 to Last Mile Health.
These basic items are in high demand as prices of gloves and other protective supplies in the country are either very high, or completely unavailable as the existing markets cannot stretch to meet ever-growing need to protect people from this highly contagious virus spread through contact with bodily fluids.
To date, Direct Relief has sent four emergency shipments of aid for Ebola valued at more than $737,000 to health facilities in Liberia and Sierra Leone.