The doctor died

Very bad news: the doctor who was leading Sierra Leone’s fight against the worst outbreak on record has died from the virus.

The death of Sheik Umar Khan, who was credited with treating more than 100 patients, follows the deaths of dozens of local health workers and the infection of two US medics in neighbouring Liberia.

Ebola is believed to have killed 672 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreak began in February, according to the World Health Organisation. The contagious disease has no known cure. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea and internal and external bleeding.

Khan, 39, hailed as a “national hero” by the health ministry, had been moved to a treatment ward run by the medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières in the far north of Sierra Leone.

Damn. I heard him chat with a reporter while at the hospital last week, saying he was optimistic. I was hoping he would make it.

“It is a big and irreparable loss to Sierra Leone as he was the only specialist the country had in viral haemorrhagic fevers,” said the chief medical officer, Brima Kargbo.

Very bad news.


  1. Gerard O says

    When professionals die in circumstances like this, it reminds you of firefighters heading into the Twin Towers or those working at Fukushima post-tsunami. Let’s hope they find a replacement quickly, for everyone’s sake.

  2. says

    I’ve been watching the outbreak slowly grind forward, and have been amazed at how few people seem to realize how serious it is. It certainly hasn’t been getting enough coverage in the US, especially because it’s a key opportunity to educate people about what not to do. For example, “don’t riot and mob a hospital where ebola patients are being collected, and demand that they be ‘freed'” or maybe even “if you are showing symptoms of a haemorrhagic fever, don’t go to your local quack doctor because you think the hospital can’t help you. unless you want to kill your local quack doctor, too.” etc.
    Humans don’t seem to be very good at handling outbreaks and someday our failure to learn from these “teaching moments” could really bite us in the ass.

  3. leftwingfox says

    They were discussing this on CBC radio this morning. Apparently there is a lot of distrust for the authorities, especially westerners. It results in a lot of conspiracy theories about the existence, cause and spread of the disease, and often shifts blame to those trying to stop it.

  4. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Tragic news. A genuine hero is gone and our world far worse for it. My condolences for whatever very little they may be worth to Sheik Umar Khan’s friends, colleagues and family.

    This is one awful, frightening story that should have had a lot more publicity but has been going largely under the RADAR (durnnit its an acronym – not shouting!)

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