Ebola Forces Doctors To Call Off Strike

Nigerian public sector doctors on Thursday suspended a nearly five-week long strike over an Ebola outbreak which has killed two people and infected five others in Lagos.

A statement from the National Medical Association union listed “the incursion of Ebola into Nigeria” as a main reason for suspending the strike.

The emergence of Ebola in Lagos, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest city with more than 20 million people, has created further panic over the worst ever outbreak of the deadly tropical disease.

The densely-packed city has a weak public health system which experts say is poorly equipped to manage a significant number of Ebola patients.

Lagos state health commissioner Jide Idris late Wednesday appealed to striking doctors to resume work, saying: “We all must come together to address this situation.”

The patient who brought the virus to Lagos on July 20, Liberian finance ministry employee Patrick Sawyer, was placed under quarantine at a private hospital.

But even the basic registration fee at a private facility can cost roughly $200, a sum which only a tiny minority of Lagosians can afford.

If Lagos sees more Ebola cases, public hospitals will need to be operational if Nigeria hopes to contain a spread of the virus, officials say.

Since the start of the year, Ebola has killed nearly 1,000 people and infected more than 1,700, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. [AFP]