Four Indian doctors working in Nigeria, a country hit by the deadly Ebola virus with 10 cases reported so far, are being threatened against leaving the country and are being forced to treat Ebola patients.
According to Hindustan Times, the passports of the four doctors have been taken away by authorities at the Primus Hospital in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, to ensure that they do not leave the country.
The doctors, Dinesh Kumar, Kapil Chouhan, Hemant Jingar and Yogesh Chandra, relayed their dire situation to Hindustan, the Hindi edition of HT, over phone and email and said that they feared for their lives as the deadly virus continues to rage across the country.
"We haven't been provided with any security kits. Our passports have been impounded. When we spoke to Indian high commission, we were asked to come to the mission. But we were stopped by guards from leaving the hospital", said Chouhan, adding that the Indian doctors were forced to stay back as local physicians had left following the Ebola outbreak in the nation. The National Medical Association union in Nigeria is reportedly on a strike.
Indian authorities, however, maintained that the doctors themselves had agreed to work for a few more days at the hospital before leaving the country, after the Indian mission in Nigeria intervened.
Health workers have been facing grave risk in the face of the Ebola outbreak, with the Nigerian Medical Association itself stating at a press conference on Monday that healthworkers were at greater risk of contracting the disease as hospitals in the country lacked protective equipment.
More than 80 healthworkers have lost their lives to the virus in the four affected West African nations. The 10th case reported in Nigeria is also that of a nurse.
While no cases have been reported in Abuja where the doctors are based, about ten people have contracted the disease in the city of Lagos in Nigeria, some of whom are being treated in the Abuja hospital, according to the relatives of one of the doctors.
The issue also raises the question of moral responsibility of doctors, with the CEO of the Indian branch of the Primus Super Speciality Hospital stating that the doctors' demand to not treat Ebola patients goes against 'medical morality'.
"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 told Hindustan.
However, the Indian Medical Association is backing the four doctors citing their free will to work, claiming that it should be the 'personal choice' of the doctor if they want to work in a particular country or not.