Friday, June 12, 2015

The Knock-On Effect From Ebola: Unemployment

Liberia’s Ebola outbreak has been over for a while, so what has happened to all those burial teams, contact tracers, Ebola Treatment Unit health workers, community mobilisers, ambulance drivers? What are they doing now?
The answer is not a lot. The majority of the estimated 20,000 or so workers and volunteers who risked their lives during the year-long fight are unable to find work, largely due to lingering stigma and fears about the virus.
Liberia was declared Ebola-free in May, but after almost 5,000 deaths and more than 10,000 cases, the country is still in trauma. Borders have reopened and trade is beginning to pick up, but the social and psychological scars take longer to heal.

“People are still afraid of us,” 44-year-old Morris Walker, who worked as a contact tracer, told IRIN.

“They don’t want to employ us because they feel we have some sort of disease and could infect them. But this is far from the fact.”
Before the outbreak, Walker had been working for many years as a waiter in a local restaurant. But when he tried to pick up again from where he’d left off, he was knocked back.
“The manager bluntly told me that my services were not needed because he heard that I was working with the burial teams,” Walker told IRIN. “The manager said that if he takes me back, most of his customers might not come back to the restaurant.” 
Walker has since applied for a number of jobs, but hasn’t had any luck. 
He is not alone.
There are no official figures, but several organisations, including local community service NGO Gratis, say that between 50 and 70 percent of former Ebola response workers are currently unemployed, particularly in and around hard-hit Margibi county. 

taken from here

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