Dailykos.com: Umaru Fofana and Adam Bailes bring us the sad news that Sierra Leones’ top specialist in Ebola and viral hemorrhagic fever diseases, Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, died of Ebola after being exposed by one of the more than 100 patients he has heroically cared for. Their article, Top Ebola Doctor Dies Of Disease, also tells that the World Health Organization has announced the death toll from the Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone is up to 672, including dozens of local health workers and the news of the infections of two American medics in neighboring Liberia.
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 American medics in neighboring Liberia, highlighting the dangers faced by staff trying to halt the disease’s spread across West Africa.
The 39-year-old Khan, hailed as a “national hero” by the Health Ministry, had been moved to a treatment ward run by the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres in the far north of Sierra Leone.
“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.
No one can replace him. Dr. Khan was the only expert in Ebola Sierra Leone had. The alarming number of health workers becoming infected with Ebola despite extensive protocols for precaution, and wearing Personal Protective Equipment, adds extra challenges at a time when Western Africa already has a shortage of trained medical staff, and severely inadequate health care infrastructure.
Many of the Ebola treatment centers in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone or nothing more than tents over mud floors with a few cots for patients to sleep on. Most seem to have no electricity, running water, or sewage systems. Four of the poorest nations in the world are in Western Africa.
A spokesperson for President Obama said he is receiving updates about the outbreak and that U.S. agencies have stepped up their aid and containment efforts.
Several major airlines have suspended flights to and from Liberia and Sierra Leone, including Nigeria’s largest carrier, Arik Air, and Western Africa’s Asky.
How tremendously sad and worrisome. May Dr. Khan Rest In Piece. Our prayers and best wishes are with him, his loved ones, and all the West Africans afflicted with Ebola Viral Disease, caring for patients, or struggling to contain this terrible outbreak.