Julius Maada Bio – former president of Sierra Leone
The Sierra Leone Telegraph: 1 August 2014
On the 29th July 2014, like many Sierra Leoneans at home and abroad, I was deeply saddened by the news of the death of Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan following his brief illness from the Ebola Virus Disease.
As the leading Sierra Leonean virologist in the campaign against the dreadful disease, his sudden demise is not only a great loss to the nation, replacing him is going to be the most formidable national challenge.
Indeed, how many of his ilk are willing to demonstrate the professionalism and muster the courage, compassion, dedication and sacrifice that so many had come to respect and associate with Dr. Khan in the face of the deadly epidemic?
Despite all the attendant risks involved, Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan never once wavered. He was a truly remarkable man and a great patriot.
As we mourn and remember the great service he rendered to the country, we should also not forget the other health workers and support staff who have succumbed to the dreadful Ebola Virus.
Like Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan, these health workers went beyond the call of duty; they served their country and they served their people. At this time, our prayers and thoughts should be with their grieving families.
In a press statement that I issued as long ago as 2nd June 2014, I stated that most Sierra Leoneans, including my humble self, believed that the Ebola outbreak posed a challenge that went far beyond the travails of politics or the boundaries of region, or within the capability of the fragile infrastructure of our national health service.
I called for a united national effort to confront the epidemic, just as we had done in responding to the devastations of the rebel war.
Alas, this call for a national enterprise went unheeded, whilst the virus continued to take its toll.
And, as for lessons from this act of omission, there have been many.
However, in the interest of our country, now that the President, His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, has finally agreed to heed the call of many and proclaimed a National Emergency in accordance with the provisions of our National Constitution, it is the duty of every citizen to put aside our differences and join hands with the Government in the fight against the dreadful Ebola Virus, until it is vanquished from our beloved country.
It is our duty under the law; it is also our duty as good citizens. It is my fervent hope that no matter who you are or where you are, we shall all accept it as our national duty to join forces with our Government, so that together we can defeat the contagion and save the lives of all our people.
Once again, I want to reiterate my earlier call to all Sierra Leoneans that we must all join the Government in the campaign against this deadly epidemic.
We must all pull together as one nation and one people. My message to every household and to every family throughout the length and breadth of our country is that Ebola is real and it kills.
Everyone must help to prevent its transmission by adhering to the Government’s medical advice and to the Ebola sensitization campaigns of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.
For myself, I propose to travel to Sierra Leone in the coming days to help in the fight against this deadly disease.
May the souls of Dr. Sheikh Umarr Khan, the health workers and the many compatriots who have died from this deadly epidemic, rest in perfect peace
God bless Sierra Leone
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