DECEMBER 11, 2014 By Victoria Saffa
Information reaching Concord Times has revealed that the anti-malaria drug which was being distributed to residents in Ebola-stricken communities in Port Loko, Bombali and Moyamba districts, and the Western Area, reportedly caused the death of a 50-year-old woman at Portee, east of Freetown.
Ya-Marie Conteh alias ‘Wunekobongo’, a renowned Traditional Birth Attendant (TBA) in the sprawling and densely populated community, allegedly died from an overdose of the drug at her William Street residence after she took more than the required tablets in a day.
Fatmata Sesay, an eyewitness, said Madam Conteh died as a result of taking the anti-malaria drug, which was being distributed free of cost to adults and children above six months.
“After the deceased had taken the medicine, she started complaining of persistent headache and fever. She informed family members that she took more than was required of the drug,” Sesay said. “She was breathing heavily and perspiring a lot.”
She said efforts to save her life were futile as they got no response from the Ebola toll free line 117, despite several attempts.
It is however not known whether an autopsy was ordered to ascertain the cause of death, while the Ministry of Health is yet to issue a statement.
But a local resident, Ibrahim Kamara, blamed the ministry for not sensitizing people enough on how to use the drug. He claimed that volunteers who distributed the pills in the Portee community were not up to the task.
“We are very worried that people will continue to die in this reckless manner because health personnel are not explaining more to the people. Ebola has claimed the lives of so many Sierra Leoneans, it is actually unfortunate that the old woman died as a result of the unprofessional attitude of health workers,” he claimed.
The Ministry of Health and Sanitation started distributing the medicine on 5 December with a view to help cure malaria ill patients, which it says could be responsible for some of the deaths that are attributed to the Ebola virus.