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Forced to treat Ebola patients in Nigeria, 4 Indian docs want out

india Updated: Aug 12, 2014 09:06 IST
Anurag Mishra
Indian doctors in Nigeria

Four Indian doctors in Nigeria have said they are being forced to treat Ebola patients against their will. They also charged their employers with taking away their passports to ensure that the doctors couldn’t leave the country.

The doctors – Yogesh Chandra, Dinesh Kumar, Hemant Jingar, and Kapil Chouhan – said they were threatened to not leave Primus Hospital in the Nigerian capital Abuja. With the virus spreading across the country, the doctors feared for their lives. They spoke to Hindustan – a sister concern of HT – over phone, email and WhatsApp.

Read: WHO meets on experimental Ebola drug use

“We haven’t been provided with any security kits. Our passports have been impounded. When we spoke to the Indian high commission, we were asked to come to the mission. But we were stopped by guards from leaving the hospital,” said Chouhan.

He added that the Indian doctors were forced to work since local physicians – who were on a strike – refused to come back to work when the Ebola epidemic broke out.

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

Read: West Africa feels knock-on effects of battle against Ebola

Around 961 people have died till August 8 from a total of 1,779 cases in the Ebola outbreak that has hit west Africa, says data from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the four countries affected so far, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria, the virus has infected nearly 150 healthcare workers, killing around 80 of them.

Though Nigerians authorities claimed there were no Ebola cases in Abuja, Dinesh Kumar’s wife Smita alleged that patients from Lagos – which has registered 10 Ebola cases and two deaths – were admitted at the hospital.

Read: The economics of the Ebola epidemic

The CEO of Primus Super Speciality Hospital India Dr ND Khurana, however, 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.

US labs ready to work on Ebola drugs if asked

(With inputs from HT Correspondent)