Sierra Leone doctors to start large scale trials of serum treatment for Ebola

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 19 November 2014

Ebola - Weep Not MotherSierra Leone may soon be at the verge of a major breakthrough in the fight against Ebola, should clinical trials of the use of convalescent serum therapy (CST), prove successful.

The war against Ebola is one that the West African nation of six million must win, and fast.

According to official figures, over 5,000 people have so far contracted the virus. And should a multiplier effect be applied at the current rate of transmission, it is estimated that more than 50,000 people may have been infected as ‘collateral transmission’.

Treatment and holding centres in the country, are struggling to cope with the rising numbers of new cases that are being confirmed Ebola positive. Last week alone, more than 500 people were tested positive with the virus.

Hopes of a massive decline in infection and transmission by encouraging changes in traditional practices and behaviours have been dashed. Aged old habits and customs are difficult to break.

Likewise, hopes of a breakthrough in the development and early production of a clinically effective vaccine are yet to be realised. But doctors in Sierra Leone are hopeful.

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Dr. Michael Kargbo has died

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 Nov 2014

Another Sierra Leonean doctor has died of Ebola, since the death yesterday of doctor Martin Salia.

Dr. Michael Moses Kargbo – an experienced surgeon, became ill last Saturday and was admitted at the Hastings Hospital, where he was pronounced dead by doctors today.

He was aged 70 and suffered from multiple longterm conditions, including hypertension and diabetes, but contracted the Ebola virus which killed him.

Dr. Michael Moses Kargbo had retired from the country’s health service, but was brought back from retirement to join the battle against Ebola.

Sadly, this afternoon, he too succumbed to the mighty will of Ebola.

Once again we ask: Is Sierra Leone fast losing the war against Ebola?

Many in Sierra Leone are deeply troubled by the government’s silence over the death of both Dr. Salia and Dr. Kargbo.

It is customary for the country’s ministry of health to publish a press statement acknowledging the passing of its doctors and expressing sympathy to their families. But astonishingly, it is now well over twenty-four hours since Dr. Salia passed away, and yet the ministry of health nor State House has seen it fit to issue a statement.

It seems president Koroma and his government are no longer capable of doing what is right in the circumstances, let alone expected to do the right thing. How sad and irresponsible.

With over 5,000 people now confirmed as Ebola infected, the people of Sierra Leone are bracing themselves for what is expected to be a miserable Christmas.

Doctors and nurses across the country are tonight worried about the increasingly high risk of contracting the virus. A total of seven doctors and scores of nurses have lost their lives in the last four months.

It is not certain what is causing the continuing high incidence of infection among health workers. Is it the lack of effective protective wear?

Is it lack of proper training as to how to put on their protective wear? Is it forgetfulness on the part of health workers about taking precautions when attending to patients?

Is it simply that the available protective wear are too cumbersome and inappropriate for the local climatic conditions?

Or, are some health workers failing to take necessary precautions outside of work, hence getting infected during domestic and social interactions?

Whatever the answers to these questions, the fact remains that at the current rate of infection among health workers, including doctors, the death toll will continue to rise, if  a thorough investigation is not carried out as to why so many of them are succumbing to the virus.

Something is going seriously wrong, and if the government really cares, it will make it its business to find out and take steps to halt this catastrophic loss of the only hope the people of Sierra Leone have of  surviving the virus – the skills, dedication and expertise of the country’s health workers and doctors.

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Another Sierra Leonean doctor dies of Ebola – aged 44

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 Nov 2014

Handout shows Martin Salia, a Sierra Leonean doctor sick with EbolaDr. Martin Salia – a Sierra Leonean born medical doctor, who contracted the Ebola virus whilst working at the Connaught Hospital over a week ago, and was flown out of the country last Saturday to receive treatment in the US, has sadly died today in a hospital in America.

This afternoon the Biocontainment Unit at the Nebraska Medical Center, where Dr. Salia was being treated, issued this statement:

“We are extremely sorry to announce that the third patient we’ve cared for with the Ebola virus, Dr. Martin Salia, has passed away as a result of the advanced symptoms of the disease.

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Ebola crisis deepens in Sierra Leone as 532 new cases found in one week

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 17 November 2014

Handout shows Martin Salia, a Sierra Leonean doctor sick with EbolaThe number of new confirmed Ebola cases appears to be declining in Liberia and Guinea. But today, there is an overwhelming sense of foreboding across Sierra Leone, as the ministry of health published its latest Ebola update. (Photo: Dr. Salia).

A new milestone has been reached, with the number of new cases officially recorded in the last seven days in Sierra Leone confirmed at 532. This is equivalent to almost 11% of the total number of Ebola cases recorded in the country, since May 2014.

The government says that on the 16th of November there were 1,206 cumulative number of Ebola deaths recorded in Sierra Leone since May 2014, an increase of 137 in the last three days, compared to the increase of 36 recorded in the previous four days.

According to the ministry of health, there were 4,967 cumulative confirmed Ebola cases on the 16th November – an increase of 223 cases recorded in the last three days, compared to the 309 seen in the previous four days.

Is Sierra Leone fast losing the war on Ebola?

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Sierra Leone Chief Justice refuses to quit – another signed order from above?

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 November 2014

Umu Jallah - Chief justiceThere is an old proverb: ‘wherever there is smoke, there is a fire’. And as questions continue to be asked as to why the Chief Justice of Sierra Leone is determined to stay in office, despite attaining the retirement age of 65 years in April 2014 and the allowable grace period of three months, there is growing suspicion of a secret deal between president Koroma and Chief Justice Umu Jalloh (Photo), granting her permission to stay in office until ‘it pleases the president’.

Critics say that it is this secretive and unconstitutional order from above that has emboldened the Chief Justice to refuse to quit office, despite attaining the retirement age of 65.

But has president Koroma got the right to extend the term of office of the Chief Justice beyond her retirement age, contrary to the country’s Constitution; or is this another example of the president having, over the past seven years, arrogated immense powers to himself to which he is not entitled?

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Sierra Leone journalist David Tam Baryoh released – but NOT FREE

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 November 2014

Tam Baryoh released but not freeIt has pleased ‘his all-powerful royal highness’ the president of Sierra Leone, to yesterday sign another order from above, instructing the release of the country’s most popular journalist – David Tam Baryoh from prison.

(Photo: Tam Baryoh – second from left, leaving prison yesterday – an unhappy man)

Tam Baryoh had been incarcerated in jail for over a week by the president, for criticising the president’s poor handling of the Ebola crisis, and his intention to illegally amend the country’s Constitution to stay in power beyond the required two terms.

But president Koroma said that the journalist was arrested “for preaching tribalism, hatred and division in the country”.

Lawyers and Human Rights groups describe Tam Baryoh’s arrest and detention as a gross abuse of power by the president, and violation of the rights and freedom of the press. They say the journalist was blackmailed into signing a confession statement which then guaranteed his presidential pardon.

Although Tam Baryoh may be out of prison, he is clearly not a free man.

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