posted at 23:50
Author Name: Anne Chaon
Battling Ebola: the worst of humanitarian missions
The virus has infected hundreds of local healthcare workers in west Africa, and has not spared their colleagues from more developed countries either. Gardemann's 60-bed unit has around 20 doctors and nurses originating from Switzerland, Canada, Norway and Portugal. "We have experience, we've lived through wars, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods... In a catastrophe, after a few days you have fewer and fewer new patients. Here, they increase," he says. More than half of those patients leave the unit in disinfected body bags, he tells AFP. The working conditions are exhausting for his team, who toil head to toe in rubber biohazard suits, plexiglass masks protecting their face and eyes in temperatures of more than 35C. Scottish nurse Margie Lee and her colleague Liz, from New Zealand, finish a round of the patients, having just given a pale toddler a blood transfusion. Patients can die suddenly, the latest example an 18-month-old baby a day earlier who had arrived two weeks ago with its mother, who has also died. When the young patients do get to see the nurse, she is hidden behind her mask. "The strange thing about this situation is that here, your safety comes first, then public health and only then the patient. It is difficult for caregivers," he says.

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