FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — Another Sierra Leonean doctor has died from Ebola, the 10th to succumb to the disease, in what the country’s chief medical officer on Sunday called a shocking trend.
Dr. Aiah Solomon Konoyeima died Saturday, according to Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brima Kargbo. His death came a day after two other doctors died from Ebola.
Konoyeima worked at a children’s hospital in the capital and was treated at the Hastings Ebola Treatment Center.
Because Ebola is transmitted through the bodily fluids of the sick and dead, it is sometimes called the “caretakers’ disease.” Hundreds of health workers have been infected in this outbreak, which overall has sickened more than 17,500 people, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Of those, about 6,200 have died.
In all, 11 Sierra Leonean doctors have been infected; only one has survived. That’s much higher than an overall fatality rate of 60 percent for hospitalized patients in the three most affected countries, according to the World Health Organization.
Trying to explain why so many doctors have died, Kargbo said doctors may initially try to manage their symptoms at home and seek treatment later than other patients. He described as “shocking the continuing death rate among Sierra Leonean front-line medical doctors.”
But the branch of the country’s medical association that represents junior doctors has been pushing for better care for infected medical workers.
The group met Saturday with President Ernest Bai Koroma and asked him to make sure the necessary life-saving equipment was available to treat doctors, according to Dr. Jeredine George, the group’s president.
Koroma, according Kargbo, promised that a new unit to treat doctors would open soon. British army medics are already staffing a clinic dedicated to treating health workers.
In recent days, including Sunday, the World Food Program and the British military dropped food by helicopter to residents of Sherbro Island and surrounding islands who typically live by selling their fishing catch, but are struggling with so many markets shut because of Ebola.
Associated Press photographer Michael Duff contributed to this report from Sherbro Island.