Dec 3, 2014 7:14 AM
AU: 250 Nigerian health workers to treat Ebola
The Associated Press
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) Nigerian health care workers prepared on Wednesday to deploy to fight Ebola in West Africa, part of the African Union's promise to send 1,000 desperately needed medical workers by the end of the year.
While hundreds of health care workers have been promised by a handful of AU countries, they have been slow to deploy. So far, 87 African health care workers have gone to Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, the most-affected countries.
The African Union held a send-off ceremony Wednesday for 250 Nigerians, who have been trained by the continental bloc to treat Ebola.
Ebola has infected more than 17,000 people, killing about 6,000 of them. While foreign aid has poured in to build treatment centers and provide supplies, there remains a severe shortage of trained medical workers to treat patients.
Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea all had too few health workers even before the crisis began, and hundreds have become infected during the outbreak. On Wednesday, British actor Idris Elba, along with professional soccer players like Yaya Toure and Patrick Vieira, launched radio and TV public service announcements that will be aired throughout the region. One highlights the heroic work of health workers, showing the soccer stars wearing jerseys with the names of those treating the disease on their backs. In another, Elba explains how to avoid catching the disease, including not touching the sick or the dead.