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Recently a piece of information was leaked to the Czech newspapers that the Interior Ministry was planning to build a special military hospital where lethal bacterial diseases, such as plague or Ebola, would be treated. Although much discussion has been going on, no one was really able - or allowed - to confirm this information.

On the other hand, I recently read that in the Czech Republic, the number of doctors who come into contact with infectious diseases has been on the constant decrease, because they simply refuse to work under such a high risk. To find a contagious disease specialist in Prague is a problem, say the doctors themselves, because the extra money and one week extra holiday he gets is not enough. And it's not only doctors but also nurses and cleaners who complain about the big risk they are exposed to every day. There are two major infectious disease wards in Prague, in the Thomayer and Bulovka hospitals. The diseases they treat include meningitis, complicated German measles and mumps, tuberculosis and AIDS. It is widely known that all employees, including the cleaners, must be inoculated, but less known is the fact that those who work there are paid according to an obsolete system, in which the extra money paid to them remains at the same level as before the year 1989.

Moreover, these special wards suffer from a lack of protective aids, and in this respect are they lagging heavily behind similar wards in industrially advanced countries. For example there is a lack of disposable respirators, and some equipment is shared by doctors and nurses. But what really hit me was that one of the doctors said if an Ebola virus was discovered in the Czech Republic, it would just mean bad luck for the doctors. A special mask with respirator used when coming into contact with Ebola patients elsewhere in the world, is simply not available in the Czech Republic!

Ambulance drivers and first aid doctors are also scared, because unlike doctors in specialised wards, these have no clue what kind of virus or bacteria they are encountering. The same goes for policemen. Those who pick up used syringes in playgrounds and parks are equipped with special protection aids, such as gloves, that can also be used when going through a suspect's pockets. But it's their own choice if they want or do not want to be inoculated.

And so it seems a bit strange to me that a specialised infection hospital is to be established in the Czech Republic. But I might as well be surprised. Maybe a bitter reality can quickly be changed if need be!