Health workers strike at Sierra Leone Ebola hospital

FREETOWN Sun Aug 31, 2014 9:07am IST

A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014.  REUTERS/Jo Dunlop/UNICEF/Handout via Reuters

A health worker, wearing head-to-toe protective gear, offers water to a woman with Ebola, at a treatment centre for infected persons, as a young boy stands nearby in Kenema Government Hospital, in Kenema, Eastern Province, Sierra Leone, in this handout photo courtesy of UNICEF taken in July 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jo Dunlop/UNICEF/Handout via Reuters

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FREETOWN (Reuters) - Health workers have gone on strike at a major state-run Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone, over pay and poor working conditions, hospital staff told Reuters on Saturday.

Sierra Leone's government is struggling to cope with the worst Ebola outbreak in history, that has killed more than 1,550 people across West Africa, with the rate of infection still rising.

"The workers decided to stop working because we have not been paid our allowances and we lack some tools," said Ishmael Mehemoh, chief supervisor at the clinic in the city of Kenema, in the country's east.

Clothing to protect health workers being infected is inadequate and there is only one broken stretcher which is used to carry both patients and corpses, Mehemoh added.

More than 20 health workers have already died from Ebola at the Kenema health clinic after catching the highly contagious virus from the patients they are fighting to save.

Sierra Leone's new health minister, Abubakarr Fofana, who took over on Friday after his predecessor was sacked, said on Saturday that a doctor from the Kenema facility had died.

(Reporting by Umaru Fofana; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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