August 21, 2014

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The number of people infected with Ebola is now over 2,200, with more than 1,200 people dying from the virus. But the death toll from Ebola in Liberia may be much higher as it seriously compromises the country’s health care system.  Buzzfeed’s Jina Moore reported from Monrovia this week that the country’s Minister of Health estimates that 75% of the deaths are women who are in formal or informal caregiving roles. This includes nurses, who have been infected while caring for patients. Some of these patients were thought not to be infected but later died from the virus. Others were known to be infected, but the nurses and others caring for seriously ill patients with Ebola have been lacking the personal protective equipment that we take for granted in the U.S.  In a nation that already suffered from a shortage of nurses and other health care workers, Ebola has killed some health care workers and has caused others to leave hospitals. Those needing health care for other reasons may fear going to hospitals or clinics and, if they do go, may find that the hospital has closed because it doesn’t have enough staff. Pregnant women who needed help with complicated deliveries have died, and it is estimated that people with other health conditions other than Ebola are also dying because of a lack of health care.

Today on Healthstyles, c0-producer and host Diana Mason, PhD, RN, talks with three nurses with recent experience in Liberia about that nation’s capacity for delivering health care now and in the future: Harriette Dolo, Liberian certified midwife and registered nurse who is Director of the Esther Bacon School of Nursing and Midwifery at Curran Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor, Lofa County, Liberia (the county with the highest incidence of Ebola); Dorcas Kunkel, DNP, RN, APHN, assistant clinical professor of nursing at the University of Minnesota and volunteer faculty at the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences in Monrovia, Liberia; and Magdeline Aagard, RN, EdD, nurse educator and international consultant who is also a volunteer faculty at the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences.

Tune in today at 1:00 to Healthstyles on WBAI, 99.5 FM (www.wbai.org), or click here to listen to the interview:

Healthstyles is sponsored by the Center for Health, Media & Policy at Hunter College, City University of New York.