18, 2016 -
Two years ago today Sierra Leone lost a great son in the
battle against the vicious Ebola Virus Disease. Dr
Victor Willoughby lost the battle against a disease that
killed more than three thousand Sierra Leoneans
Two years ago today in 2014, all caring
Sierra Leoneans were shocked to hear of the passing away
of one of Sierra Leone's caring and dedicated medical
doctors, Dr Victor Willoughby. Despite the prayers of
many that he be spared the fate of ten other doctors
that had succumbed to the ravages of the disease, it was
not to be as he went to the great beyond before an
experimental drug could be used to ward off the terrible
attacks of the ravaging and unrelenting disease that had
earlier claimed an expert in such diseases, the brave
and committed Dr Sheik Umar Khan whose work on the Lassa
Fever outbreak in Sierra Leone is internationally
He succumbed to the ravages of the
disease while waiting to be flown out from Sierra Leone
for proper medical attention and treatment.
One online news outlet,
the Daily Telegraph
has this reminder in an article dated July 30, 2015 at
it paid tribute to all those doctors and other health
delivery staff who risked their own lives in trying to
comfort and save the afflicted.
"Like a murderer’s hand lurking in the
shadows and clasping a dagger, Ebola has struck down up
to 11,279 helpless victims sometimes one after the other
and other times en masse across three West African
countries in just 14 months. Since the outbreak first
appeared in Guinea in May 2014, up to 510 health care
workers have fallen prey to the marauding beast of a
disease, leaving many more uncared for or with limited
prospects, as signs of the epidemic waning begin to
surface across the three most affected countries.
Eleven senior doctors out of Sierra Leone’s meagre pool
of 120 doctors have lost their lives to Ebola.
On July 29, 2014, Sierra Leone
recorded the death of a local health care hero among
heroes. The country experienced an irreparable loss when
39 year old Dr Sheik Umar Khan succumbed to the dreaded
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). He was the only qualified
Chief Physician of the only medical unit in the world
devoted exclusively to patient care and research of
viral haemorrhagic fever.
He has not been replaced. He can never
It was perhaps the most notable
tragedy at the beginning of the crisis. One year on,
Sierra Leoneans at home and across the world remember
this day with grief. We grieve that the nation’s cradle
of young, talented and selfless professionals like Dr
Khan is crumbling on an almost daily basis.
We grieve that one year after Dr
Khan’s death, the remaining other health care workers
continue to be stretched to their professional limits.
Dr Khan, in the words of one his former colleague, Dr
Bausch, “was at the heart of the response – seeing
patients, directing activities, constantly on the phone
with government officials and countless others
coordinating the control efforts.”
He stayed in Kenema in Eastern Sierra
Leone, to provide his care to infected patients even
though he had the chance to leave his post. Like a true
hero, his thirst to save and his desire to serve
overshadowed any thought of leaving the country for a
safer location. He was there when needed."
in its online edition noted this on the passing away of
Dr Victor Willoughby -
"Sierra Leone’s most senior doctor has
died of Ebola just hours after an experimental drug to
treat him arrived at Freetown’s airport.
Dr Victor Willoughby is the 11th of
the country’s 120 doctors to die from the virus, during
an outbreak that has killed almost 7,000 people.
The country’s chief medical officer
said the death of Willoughby, who tested positive for
Ebola on Saturday, was a major loss for Sierra Leone.
“Dr Victor Willoughby was a mentor to
us physicians and a big loss to the medical profession,”
said Brima Kargbo. “He has always been available to help
The 67-year-old died on Thursday
morning, just hours after the experimental treatment
arrived in the country for him. The arrival of ZMAb,
developed in Canada, had raised hopes for Willoughby’s
survival. But he died before a dose could be
administered, said Kargbo."
Who would forget another surprising
death from the ravages of the Ebola Virus Disease? Dr
Martin Salia - "The private plane carrying Salia arrived
at Omaha’s Eppley Airfield at 2:44 p.m. local time (3:44
p.m. ET) Saturday.
As snow fell, people dressed in bright
yellow protective clothing loaded Salia onto an
isolation pad and then into the back of an ambulance.
The medical crew transporting Salia, 44, had determined
that his condition was stable enough for him to make the
lengthy flight to Omaha, but he was very ill.
In announcing Salia’s death, Dr. Phil
Smith, medical director of the biocontainment unit at
Nebraska Medical Center said, “It is with extremely
heavy heart that we share this news. Dr. Salia was
extremely critical when he arrived here, and
unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we weren’t able
to save him.”
Doctors said Salia was suffering from kidney and
respiratory failure when he arrived and was placed on
dialysis, a ventilator and multiple medications
including a dose of ZMapp. He also received a plasma
transfusion from a patient who had recovered from Ebola.
During a Nov. 17 press conference, Dr.
Daniel Johnson, division chief for critical care
anesthesiology, said he was proud of the team’s work.
“We really, really gave it everything we could,” he
Doctors in Nebraska could not say how Salia contracted
the disease, but Smith noted the first Ebola test,
performed Nov.7, was negative, which is not uncommon.
A Nov. 10 test confirmed Salia had
Ebola and he arrived in the U.S. on Day 13 of his
illness. Because an Ebola patient’s body remains
contagious, public health mandates cremation. As a
precaution, hospital staff who treated Salia will follow
self-monitoring protocols for possible symptoms of
Rosanna Morris, chief nursing officer,
called it “an absolute honor to care for Dr. Salia” and
praised his wife, who was at the medical center when he
died. “She is an incredibly strong, stoic, brave
individual who really taught us a lot about someone
going through these circumstances,” she said.
Morris also praised the medical center staff. “I want to
thank our local heroes who took care of a global hero
these past few days,” she said.
In a statement released by the medical center, Isatu
Salia expressed thanks for her husband’s care. “We’re
very grateful for the efforts of the team led by Dr.
Smith,” she said. “In the short time we spent here, it
was apparent how caring and compassionate everyone was.
We are so appreciative of the opportunity for my husband
to be treated here and believe he was in the best place
Two years later after the experiences
of the death-dealing rampage of a crumbling healthcare
delivery system, nothing has changed for the better. It
would seem that all that the rat and his kind are
waiting for is the resurgence of the dreaded disease or
the emergence of another challenge to the health of the
people so that another state of emergency could be
declared that would prolong his stay at State House.
The reports of the Auditor-General on
the heartless and uncaring thieving cabal led by the rat
at State House clearly show an affinity for the mafia at
State House for money and other resources at whatever
cost. Even though these reports clearly showed crimes
committed, the Anti Corruption Commission has failed to
exercise its mandate, nor has the Munu-led police
initiated any action against those who seem to have
illegally benefited from what the rat himself had called
Former Information minister Alpha Khan
who had come up with a mysterious ALFAKA foundation has
yet to explain why he allowed so many to die in the
north as he fooled people into believing that he had
built a treatment centre - using a picture of a freshly
painted building - the inside of which were never made
Here's an account from someone as seen
"When I visited Kenema government
hospital in November, just a few days after Sierra Leone
was declared Ebola-free, I found a hospital on its
knees. Already short-staffed prior to the crisis, this
hospital lost 37 staff to Ebola. The doctors, nurses,
midwives and hospital assistants are doing their utmost
to provide the best possible care for their patients,
but without running water, adequate sanitation and
hygiene, they’re fighting a losing battle.
While I was there I witnessed several
newborn babies die. Some lived for a few days, others
for just a few minutes – but all of them died from
entirely preventable causes including sepsis and
pneumonia which could have been avoided if they’d been
born in a clean, hygienic environment. This is a place
where death among newborns is so prevalent that parents
wait a week before naming their children.
Sadly this is not just a problem confined to the
maternity and neonatal wards.
As we travelled through the hospital
we arrived at the mortuary and were greeted by Theresa
who told us she was “a friend of the dead.” While we
were there, another tiny corpse arrived, but with no
space left the body had to be placed on the floor. The
child would have been no older than five.
In the distance the sound of three
women wailing in pain at the loss of their child echoed
around the walls of the hospital. It was a scene
reminiscent of what we saw almost daily on our TV
screens during Ebola.
But this death was not caused by
It was from entirely preventable
causes. In 2013 more than 4,500 children under five in
Sierra Leone are estimated to have died from diarrhoeal
illnesses. This figure is higher than the country’s
4,000 Ebola deaths.
If Ebola taught us anything, it’s that
you cannot have infection prevention where you lack a
reliable, clean water supply, functioning toilets and
good hygiene. These are basic frontline defences in the
battle against infection and disease. Yet the situation
is still not improving.
A survey released by WHO in Sierra
Leone this year found that in one district nearly
three-quarters of all rural healthcare clinics do not
have access to water at all, and even when they do, the
water does not run 24/7.
The situation is as bleak in Liberia
where 95 per cent of healthcare facilities do not meet
the national standards for the quantity of water
required each day to keep a hospital running. This is
not just a situation waiting for an answer; this is an
injustice waiting for action.
If the country’s babies were born in
hospitals where the midwives were able to properly wash
their hands, where the beds they were giving birth on
had been disinfected and the equipment they were using
was properly sterilised, they may be alive today.
This is West Africa’s new silent
If we don’t see action to improve
water, sanitation and hygiene practices in healthcare
facilities across Sierra Leone and Liberia, we’re at
risk of repeating another epidemic like Ebola.
Now both countries are starting to
rebuild after Ebola, water and sanitation must be made a
political priority. Funding must be provided for these
basic building blocks of good health and development.
Then and only then will these nations be prepared if
another epidemic hits."