Ebola doctor fights for better health system in Sierra Leone

Leading doctor for Ebola battle in Sierra Leone raises awareness about health system, asks for help from the international community

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Former Ebola patients celebrating their recovery

British doctor, Oliver Johnson, the man leading the fight against the Ebola epidemic that is affecting Sierra Leone, calls for international attention and help, and seeks assistance towards fixing the country’s health system.

Despite the bad conditions that took over Sierra Leone, Mr Johnson believes that the future will become better, even though the epidemic took the lives of 3,587 people.

“There has been so much horror, people have to come through this. We can’t let it end on that note,” said Johnson.

“There has been a lot of loss. The story of loss has been told and it is not that we will forget that loss. There have been extraordinary people who have kept the health system going,” he added.

Sierra Leone is close to winning the battle against the deadly virus and is expected to do so in about 42 days. However, a woman from Kambia has tested positive and lost her life on Saturday, indicating that the battle is not over yet.

Dr Johnson is well familiar with the flawed facilities in the country, as he has been in Sierra Leone for four years, serving as the director of the King’s Sierra Leone Partnership.

When Ebola outburst happened in May 2014, Johnson was there to witness the lack of preparation and knowledge concerning the virus. He has been working at the Connaught Hospital since the outbreak.

As the Ebola issue has became public knowledge, Johnson is hoping to get the help he needs from the international community.

“For us to seize this opportunity, we’re going to need a significant and sustained effort from the government and international community over the next five to 10 years,” he said.

The country was not ready to face the problem, due to the lack of equipment and specialized doctors, the Guardian reports.

Johnson has achieved to open an infectious diseases ward in the hospital, in order to isolate infected people to prevent the virus from spreading.

“When Ebola came, we did not have anything in place. Infection control was zero. It really taught us a lot of lessons.” Foday Sahr who is responsible for the Ebola treatment centres at the 34 Military hospitals in Freetown, Sierra Leone, said.

Earlier this year Dr Oliver Johnson had pointed out the difficulties as well as the danger of their responsibilities.

“We're all aware that there is a risk and that we have to be extremely careful. However, we also know that if we wear the protective equipment properly and follow the protocols then we'll be OK”

“That doesn't leave room for error, however - such as an accidental scratch of the face or forgotten hand wash. As we get used to it, we all begin to relax - the risk then is making sure that you don't cut corners or get too confident.'


TRTWorld and agencies