Liberia is Stiffing Its Contact Tracers as Ebola Epidemic Continues

Some 600 angry Ebola workers surrounded Liberia’s Ministry of Health Monday demanding back pay dating from early September. The ministry employees who track down anyone who may have come into contact with an Ebola victim — a critical process called contact tracing — have never received a dime.

Of the several thousand contact tracers who had been told that they would, at last, be paid, 600 converged on the ministry on Monday morning, but no paymaster could be found. A single paymaster appeared — at 3 p.m. — and departed two hours later, having processed salary payments for fewer than 50 people.

The enraged workers, whose labors are essential to stemming the Ebola epidemic, shouted angrily for hours. Holding up cellphone pictures to illustrate the conditions under which they toil, the contact tracers described fording raging rivers in dugout canoes, hiking through knee-high mud, and hunting for hours in blazing sun through slums that have no addresses.

“They are lying to the Liberian people,” King James of Zybah town shouted, waving his fist at the Ministry of Health. “They are not doing the prevention measures they claim.”

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Dan Mullin is an active writer and editor for the Pluto Daily who covered the 2014 Ebola Outbreak. Mullin attended the Wake Forest School of Medicine before leaving to pursue his lifelong science goal of allowing humans to live forever via a computer/brain transfer.