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Ebola crisis: stranded Indian docs await govt help

india Updated: Aug 13, 2014 00:59 IST
Anurag Mishra
India Hemant Jingar

Four Indian doctors, who claimed they were being forced to treat Ebola patients against their will, knocked on the doors of the Indian embassy in Nigeria capital Abuja on Tuesday, but were yet to be offered help with their return home to India.

“We have been waiting outside the embassy without food since (Tuesday) morning, but there is no official word. We will not go back to the hospital, as they may push false charges against us to ensnare us in a legal tangle,” one of the doctors, Dinesh Kumar, told Hindustan — a sister publication of HT.

The four — Yogesh Chandra, Dinesh Kumar, Hemant Jingar, and Kapil Chouhan – have said the Primus Hospital in the Nigerian capital Abuja had taken away their passports and was forcing them to treat Ebola patients, a fact denied by the private medical facility. With the virus spreading across the country, they fear for their lives.

Indian doctors were forced to treat patients since local physicians – who were on a strike – refused to come back to work when the Ebola epidemic broke out, they claimed.

“They are not relieving doctors from other countries because of the shortage. Eleven Indian doctors are also involved in the strike,” Kumar said.

The doctors were stranded at the embassy without any official word when Hindustan last spoke to them late Tuesday.

Foreign ministry sources, however, told PTI the Indian high commissioner was in touch with them.

Indian government sources told HT on Monday that following the intervention of the Indian mission in Nigeria, the doctors had agreed to work in the hospital for a few more days and then leave the country.

Read: Ebola outbreak toll reaches 1,013 in West Africa

“We were initially told to go back to work for 10 days and wait for the matter to be resolved, but no satisfactory action has been initiated,” one of the doctors said on Tuesday.

PTI’s sources claimed the matter would be resolved soon as the hospital was owned by Indians. They said the hospital was correct in saying there were no cases of Ebola in Abuja.

The wife of one of the doctors had alleged on Monday that patients from Lagos – which has registered 10 Ebola cases and two deaths – were admitted at the hospital.

The CEO of Primus Super Speciality Hospital India Dr ND Khurana appeared to not agree with the demands of the four doctors. “We are in touch with our Abuja branch. These doctors are afraid of contracting the dreaded disease but it is against medical morality. One doctor has left the service, which will be treated as impropriety,” he said.

But Dr Narendra Saini, secretary of the Indian Medical Association, countered Khurana, arguing that a doctor's personal choice should dictate if they want to work in a particular country.

The current outbreak, described as the worst since Ebola was first discovered four decades ago, has killed 1,013 people so far.?

With PTI inputs