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Monday, 4 December, 2000, 16:06 GMT
Uganda's Ebola nursing toll
Healthcare worker spraying patient
Protective clothing is not preventing deaths
By Anna Borzello in Kampala

Ugandan nurses have called on government to pay a risk allowance to their colleagues who work with victims of the often deadly Ebola virus.

Rita Matte, Registrar of the Ugandan Nurses And Midwives Council - told me they want their members to be given money for tending the sick - while the families of those who have died should be compensated.

She added that nurses would not strike to achieve their demands - but said that they did want recognition for their hard and often risky work.

Twelve nurses at Lacor Hospital in Gulu District - which has been at the centre of the Ebola outbreak - have so far contracted the disease and died.

Nurse attend to a child suspected of having Ebola.
The toll of health care workers is rising
Three of the dead were student nurses.

Last Thursday, the Medical Superintendant of Lacor, the highly regarded Dr Mathew Lukwiya, also fell sick with Ebola, after tending an infected nurse.

Officials in Gulu said Dr Lukwiya's condition had begun to improve by Monday afternoon.

High infectiousness

Ebola is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids - and in all epidemics, health workers and attendants at tradtional burials, where the corpse is washed by relatives and friends - are the main victims of the disease.

child suspected of having contracted Ebola virus
Ebola victims are quarantined to prevent more infections
Ebola - which has so far claimed 152 lives in Uganda - was positively identified on October 13.

A few days later, box loads of protective clothing were flown into the town to provide hospital staff with effective barrier nursing.

Unfortunately, it seems that the overstetched nurses and doctors at Lacor where perhaps too overworked to utilise the plastic gloves, aprons and goggles effectively and began to make mistakes.

Mrs Matte told me that representatives of various nursing organisations will travel to Lacor on Thursday to hold a memorial service for all their colleagues who have died.

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