Sierra Leone buries ‘hero’ Ebola medic
Sierra Leone on Thursday buried a doctor it hailed as a “national hero” for saving the lives of more than 100 Ebola patients before succumbing himself to the disease.
Dr Umar Khan, 43, the west African nation’s sole virologist, was at the forefront of his country’s fight against the epidemic, which has seen more than 700 deaths in Sierra Leone and its west African neighbours.
He was laid to rest in the eastern town of Kenema, where he had spent much of his working life, in a Muslim ceremony attended by family, friends, local dignitaries, aid workers and health officials.
“He was committed and dedicated in the quest to save the lives of his compatriots,” Health Minister Miatta Kargbo told the mourners.
“For the short time we interacted, he constantly described Ebola as a war that all Sierra Leoneans should join to fight against or otherwise it would be devastating.”
Local media in Kenema described a “grief-laden” atmosphere weighing heavily on the town, with offices closed and markets empty.
President Ernest Koroma declared Khan a “national hero” following the medic’s death on Tuesday, and named a research centre in Kenema in his memory.
“The late doctor saved the lives of more than 100 patients before succumbing to the deadly ebola disease himself,” Mr Koroma said in a statement ahead of the funeral, which he did not attend.