Dr. Sheik Umar Khan dies after being infected by the Ebola virus while coordinating control measures

Publicação: 11 de August de 2014

The epidemic has killed 1.069 people, among them Dr. Sheik Umar Khan, main Ebola expert in Sierra Leone


As Sierra Leone’s only expert in hemorrhagic fevers, he was aware of the risks and continued to work tirelessly caring for more than 100 patients

The Ebola virus has killed 1.069 people since the beginning of the year in four African countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). A survey released by the entity in July 27 pointed to 339 deaths in Guinea Conakry, 233 in Sierra Leone, 156 in Liberia and one in Nigeria. Among the Ebola victims is Dr. Sheik Umar Khan who coordinated measures to contain the outbreak in Sierra Leone. The virus’s propagation among West Africa countries has been considerable during the past few weeks, despite the Ebola is not of easy infection if compared to other infectious diseases, such as H1N1. Due to this reason, the WHO’s general director, Margaret Chan, announced the outbreak is out of control, but that could be contained. The risk of propagation to Brazil is considered low by the Health Ministry. The Office announced through a public release note in the beginning of the month that there are no suspicious or confirmed cases in the Country.

The Brazilian Society of Tropical Medicine (BSTM) wishes to extend a special recognition in memorandum of Sheik Umar Khan who died at age 39 on 29 July 2014. He contracted the Ebola virus while leading Liberia’s effort to control the Ebola epidemic.

Prior to this assignment, Dr. Khan was head of the Lassa Fever Program for the Liberian Government. He was, in addition, an attending physician at several government hospitals and lecturer in the Department of Medicine at the University Hospital where he trained. He is described by those who knew him well as good company, scientifically curious, compassionate to his patients and dedicated to his work.

As Sierra Leone’s only expert in hemorrhagic fevers, he was aware of the risks and continued to work tirelessly caring for more than 100 patients. Dr. Khan is quoted as saying: “Health workers are prone to the disease because we are the first port of call for those with the disease. Even with the full kit (protective clothing) we put on we’re at risk. I’m afraid for my life, because I cherish my life. And if you are afraid then you must take the maximum precautions, stay vigilant and stay on your guard”.

He was a remarkable and admirable man whose death shocks us and should remind us that he is not the only health care worker who has died or the only one who is trying to control this deadly outbreak. There is an international mobilization, but enormous credit is due to the people working in their own day to day environment who have not died. People like Sheik Umar Khan remind us of our origins as tropical medicine specialist. In addition to commercial interests, scientific curiosity, or other self-centered motives, there is a strong tradition of public service in tropical medicine that should be honored in all of us, the living as well as the dead.…