Sheik Umar Khan, the top doctor in Sierra Leone, has contracted Ebola after treating dozens infected with the virus. The government said he is alive and receiving medical care. Khan has been treated by Doctors Without Borders, a humanitarian-aid organization. The doctor also has been hailed as a hero by Miatta Kargbo, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Health. He was credited with treating more than 100 victims of Ebola.
The out-of-control outbreak of the infection began in February. The virus killed 660 people across Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia since the second month of 2014. Until July, the World Health Organization (WHO) statement shows that 1,093 people were infected. Khan’s colleagues said that he was very cautious with protection. He always wore gloves, a mask and special footwear. WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said there is a strict procedure on how you wear the clothes and how you take them off.
Last weekend, three nurses working in the same treatment center as Khan died from Ebola despite efforts to save them. Samuel Mutoro, a senior doctor from Uganda, was working in Liberia and likewise died after treating infected patients in early July. The tools available to heal Sierra Leone’s top doctor Sheik Umar Khan after contracting the disease are limited because Ebola does not have a cure or a vaccine to prevent it. Therefore medical support, hydration and pain killers are the only means of available treatment.
Before being infected, top doctor Sheik Umar Khan said he feared the contamination in Sierra Leone, “I am afraid of my life.” The 39-year-old medical professional said all of them, he and his co-workers, are at risk even with the protective clothing. The health workers are afraid as they try to prevent the deadly infection spreading across borders. Senegal, Mali and Ivory Coast are the nearest countries of the actual outbreak hotspot.
This sudden occurrence of Ebola is the worst ever recorded. The disease causes vomiting, fever, diarrhea and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding. After the infected dies, the body remains diseased so other people can become infected through personal contact. Ebola mortality rate is up 90 percent, although the current outbreak is 60 percent. Local governments, non-profit groups like Doctors Without Borders and WHO are failing and struggle to control the outbreak.
Edward Deline started a fire and destroyed part of Liberia’s Health Minister on Wednesday. The resident of the Liberia’s capital Monrovia tried to protest over the death of his 14-year-old brother from the deadly infection. “To me, the situation in West Africa should be a wake-up call,” announced Scott Dowell, who works at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The World Health Organization depends almost completely on donations.
Assistant medical director of WHO, Keiji Fukuda said last week that every country, especially the poor ones, need help to fight outbreaks and to be prepared for them. The doctor said there is no infrastructure in the three infected countries to fight the disease. There is one nurse for every 50 patients in Kenema, one of the most equipped hospitals in Sierra Leone’s third largest city. In Conakry, Guinea, the water supply is intermittent at the local hospital. Doctors Without Borders is treating Sheik Umar Khan in Sierra Leone after the top virologist doctor was hit with Ebola.
By Murillo Moret