Thursday, July 31, 2014

Ebola: news no one wanted to hear...

The news that no one in Sierra Leone wanted to hear was announced on Tuesday the 29th of July 2014. Dr. Khan, leading expert in viral hemorrhagic fevers, passed away in the MSF treatment centre.

"It is with heavy heart that the Ministry of Health and Sanitations informs the general public that Sierra Leone’s only virologist Dr. Shiekh Umarr Khan passed away this afternoon at the treatment Center in Kailahun. His body has been conveyed at the Lassa Fever Mortuary in Kenema and plans are underway for his befitting burial on Thursday." 

Although Dr. Khan lost his own life to Ebola, he saved at least a hundred others from this dreadful disease. He took a risk to help his people, his country and lost his life to the very disease he was saving other people from. Dr. Khan is a hero in the eyes of Sierra Leoneans today. He literally put his life on the line for fellow Sierra Leoneans and many people are grateful to him.

Dr. Khan's death is a tragedy. As expert in viral haemorrhagic fevers and leader of the Kenema treatment centre, his death leaves a huge gap in the health care system, especially in this fight against Ebola. Who will step into his shoes?

As devastating as this news is to the entire country, I pray that it stirs people into action. I pray that doctors and nurses will (continue to) work in the front lines to combat this disease - I pray for courage, stamina and protection. I hope that the people of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea will realize that Ebola is REAL. It is not the government injecting people and killing them, it is not a curse, it is not something the white man is making up to harvest organs, it is not a political game. Ebola is REAL. It is a disease that spreads through contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, which means it is also a disease that can be prevented if that contact is avoided. People need to realize that if their family member is suspected to have Ebola it is in the best interest of the patient, the family and the community for that person to be isolated. It is the only way to break the chain of transmission. People need to realize that treatment centers are not death chambers - they are places that optimize the chance of survival. There are survivors. Without going to a treatment centre, the chance of survival at home is close to zero, but by going to a treatment centre, especially going early, the chance of survival is higher (overall death rate in three countries is currently about 60%). There are so many things that the general public need to know. 

I pray that through the tragic death of Dr. Khan there will be a massive turnaround in behavior and attitudes and that necessary action will be taken on all fronts to end the Ebola epidemic. I realize that this will take some time but let's continue fighting, in honor of Dr. Kahn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sandra, zonder veel woorden: we denken aan je! Bastiaan en Annekoos

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~