Serious deficiencies in the working conditions of junior doctors dealing with the Ebola virus in West Africa have been highlighted by the World Medical Association.
Following concern raised by its junior doctor members about the situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the WMA has urged the authorities to take immediate action to protect junior doctors and other health personnel who are on the front line treating those with Ebola virus infection. Since the outbreak began several months ago, hundreds of people have died or become infected, including physicians and health care staff.
Dr. Nivio Moreira, Chair of the WMA’s Junior Doctors Network, said: ‘Junior doctors are the most vulnerable healthcare staff as they are in first line contact with the infected and their next of kin. We are appalled by reports that many junior doctors are not provided with protective equipment essential for dealing with such a deadly disease.
‘We are also concerned about reports of unsupervised junior staff in the current Ebola outbreak, which needs high level of expertise to support the junior staff. These are major threats to all those working in these situations and go to the heart of safe working conditions.’
Dr. Margaret Mungherea, President of the WMA, said: ‘The authorities and stakeholders must take appropriate action to constitute supervised and protected working conditions for junior doctors and all healthcare staff. The WMA also would like to emphasize the importance of handling all suspected cases of Ebola as seriously as the diagnosed ones. While
engaging the infected individuals, WHO endorsed protocols should be adopted by health authorities.
‘Governments have a responsibility to ensure that health workers are trained and provided with a safe workplace and protective gear.’