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They were doctors, nurses, midwives, cleaners, ambulance drivers, pharmacists, community health workers – among others, and they were all in the frontline against the Ebola Virus Disease.
They have died because they have been exposed to infected people or contaminated materials, lacking personal protective equipment and the necessary tools to do their work safely.
PSI and its affiliate health workers’ unions in West Africa have been warning local governments and international institutions about the threat of Ebola since early 2014.
After almost one year, this grievously high loss of lives reveals the shortsighted failure to invest in public health systems in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In the last decades, loans from the international financial institutions have favoured extractive industries and private sector enterprises, while national measures to invest in public infrastructure have met with admonitions on overspending.
In this video message, PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli names and remembers all the health workers who have lost their lives in the three most affected countries, highlighting the responsibilities for such policies and outcomes (lists updated on 24 November 2014).
“Over 300 workers have died on the job in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, trying to save lives and contain the Ebola outbreak. They are not only the victims of a virus, they also belong to societies oppressed by endless conflicts and civil wars. They are victims of a non-inclusive and insecure system, where international financial institutions have imposed unsustainable development programmes, based on health privatisation, to the sole benefit of foreign corporations. They are victims of a careless international community that has allowed such conditions of exploitation and poverty to flourish. PSI wants to remember all of those workers one by one, name by name. We will honour their sacrifice by pledging to ensure that all workers enjoy safe working conditions everywhere and to strengthen the fight for quality public healthcare for all.”