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As 7 doctors succumb to Ebola scourge

CSO activists express concern

VOX POP

NOVEMBER 21, 2014 With Patrick J. Kamara and Victoria Saffa

The Late Doctors

The deadly Ebola virus disease has claimed the lives of at least 1,240 Sierra Leoneans, including seven (7) doctors who have been in the frontline of the fight to defeat the outbreak since May this year.  They include doctors Sheik Umar Khan, Sahr Rogers, Cole, Buck and George.

Following the deaths of Dr Martin Maada Salia and Dr Moses Morlai Kargbo within two days this week, the public has expressed grave concern about the deaths of the country’s doctors, despite new treatment centres being operated by the British, Chinese, Cubans and Sierra Leonean medics.

Concord Times’ Patrick J. Kamara and Victoria Saffa were out and about in the streets of Freetown to get the views of CSO activists as to why we have been unhappy to lose all seven doctors that contracted the virus.

Below is what they have to say:

Victor Lansana Koroma – Executive Director, Health Alert

It is an unfortunate situation for Sierra Leone to lose seven doctors and over 100 nurses. We at Health Alert are deeply concerned about this sad development. We think that government must stand up for the test of time. Mind you before the outbreak of the Ebola virus, the country was in acute shortage of health workers. There is a wide gap of about 1,879 health workers needed across the country and there were about 877 nurses before the Ebola outbreak, and now we are losing these health workers to Ebola. It is a pathetic and unfortunate situation we found ourselves as a country that is just coming from an eleven years bloody civil war. Government must ensure that the appropriate logistics are supplied as well as incentives to health workers; otherwise it will take us time to win this battle. Mind you the remaining health workers are in perpetual fear for their lives. The only thing that can keep them up to the task without fear is to increase and pay their allowances on time.

Alfred Alex Jatta Dumbuya – ENCISS IPs chairman and Director of Sierra Leone Social Aid Volunteer (SLSAV)

It is very pathetic and sad to hear about the rampant death of Sierra Leonean medical doctors. This shows how dangerous the disease is; even the most qualified medics are succumbing to the scourge. Because of these deaths, people should now use right preventive measures to protect themselves. We have few medical doctors to save lives during a crisis like this and it is a threat for the entire population of this country. I am appealing to the government to provide more Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and also develop medical protocols. With this, I think the death of health workers will reduce drastically.

Victoria Renner – Girl Child Network Sierra Leone

The rampant death of these young doctors is frustrating many Sierra Leoneans. I think it is time for more doctors to come out and join the fight. I am also advising medical doctors to take precaution when handling people with the Ebola virus. As they are the first port of call for people with the virus, it is very easy to contract the disease, so they must be conscious of the fact that they are more vulnerable to the disease. I am calling on the government to put more doctors on board to protect the lives of Ebola victims. I am also encouraging Sierra Leoneans to take the preventive measures and report early for treatment.

Fudia Dawundo – Finance Officer, Waterloo Progressive Women Organisation.

I am aware that this month alone, we have lost three medical doctors to Ebola. It is disheartening and unfortunate, especially for the retired medical man at Tonkolili District, Dr. Moses Morlai Kargbo, who came to save the lives of his compatriots. Majority of our medical doctors travel to Europe to look for lucrative jobs and the few who are with us are now dying of Ebola. I feel sad because at the end of the outbreak most of our specialist doctors would have gone.

I call on the government to sponsor students in the medical schools to specialize so that they will replace those ones that we have lost. It is high time for people to have more awareness about the disease.

Brima George Koroma – Executive Director, Africa Youth Circle Sierra Leone

We have very limited medical doctors in the country and we have lost seven of them to Ebola, which is very alarming for us. The fight against the Ebola is not only for health workers, but for every individual. I therefore call on all and sundry to work collectively to eradicate the disease so that we can go back to normal days. I am advising the doctors that are involve in the treatment of Ebola patients to be cautious.

The government must be commended for their relentless effort in putting extraordinary measures in the fight against the deadly virus, but they must increase incentives to our medical workers so that they will continue to render patriotism to patients infected.

 Ahmed G. Koroma, Programme officer – Animated Area Development Committee (AADC)

It is a concern for every Sierra Leonean to see that the epidemic is eradicated. Since the death of Dr. Sheik Umar Khan in July, we noticed that it is a guiding rule on how people should prevent themselves from the virus. The health workers are at the frontline and are more vulnerable to the virus than any other person.

It is not clear as to why doctors are dying, but some people believe that when they experienced the signs, they would have attempted to treat themselves at home. They would only go for a test when it became worst. That is bad very, very, bad for professionals like our revered doctors.

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