Dr. Samuel Mutoro is not the first health care worker to die as a result of complications from the deadly Ebola outbreak. It is more than likely that he may not be the last.
The Ugandan medical worker, assigned to the Redemption Hospital in New Kru Town was the last to make contact with Esther Kesselley, the first recorded nurse to die from the outbreak in Liberia. The two cases point to rapidly growing dangers for health care workers in the line of fire in the war against Ebola. Sources tell FrontPageAfrica that Mutoro was providing medical assistance to the nurse when he contracted the disease.
Since nurse Kesselley's death, nurses across the country have been abandoning their posts, slamming the government for not providing them with adequate protective gears to guard them against those running to the hospital and diagnosed with the illness.
Less than 24 hours after Mutoro's death, many who crossed his path recalled a man devoted to his craft and always willing to go the extra mile to offer relief - even if it meant, putting his own life at risk as was the case with the late Esther Kesselley.
"My mom & I are serious tears right now. This man saves my mother's life just this gone February when he did a surgery. Shame on our government, my house whole is in tears. I knew this Doctor. He was the most kind hearted person n A gentle hero," wrote M. Leela Kpukuyou on FPA Facebook wall Wednesday.
Dr. Mutoro who hails from the western district of Kasese becomes the third Ugandan medical doctor to succumb to the deadly Ebola virus. Dr. Matthew Lukwiya, died in Lacor Hospital in 2000 during the first ever outbreak of the disease in Uganda. Dr Kule Jonah of Bundibugyo became the second and died in Mulago Hospital in 2007 during the second Ebola outbreak in Uganda after contracting the disease from patients in Bundibugyo district.
The disease continues to have a deadly toll on the population in three counties and as the ministry of health revealed on state owned broadcaster ELBC, more people are falling prey to the deadly virus.
"One hundred people today are confirmed, probable or suspected of the disease and of the one hundred, 64 are in Lofa, three in Margibi, 33 in Montserrado," stated assistant minister for curative services, Mr. Tolbert Nyenswah on Wednesday.
"There are 61 deaths as of today; confirmed, probable and suspected; 32 in Lofa, two in Margibi, 27 in Montserrado including health workers. The doctor that died is no exception to the cases we're talking about."
Describing the deadly nature of the disease, Nyenswah said Liberians should stop the denial and take the virus seriously as it is nothing to joke about."The disease breaks down very, very vital organs; so when you are affected, at any given point, any of your inner organs can give up because it attacks those very vital organs like your kidney, your heart, those organs that are responsible for giving life, are affected by the virus," he said.
"For us to cut immediately this transmission is for us to quarantine people; put people in isolation, wash your hands with soap and medical practitioners before you see anyone that is sick, wear your gloves and wear your protective gears."
He said the number of contacts with people who are sick and showing symptoms of the virus is rising steadily adding that for every confirmed case, the infected person is believed to come in direct contact with at least ten to twelve persons.
"Meaning that these are people who have had direct physical contact," he said. "Maybe they washed the clothing of this person, or they were cooking for them or they lived together or they touched any fluids from their bodies."
Women Most Affected
As the deadly virus continues to claim lives, the ministry of health is reporting that women account for the highest number of infected cases largely due to their care giving nature.
"Females are those that are highly affected. This morning we were doing a group of persons infected with the disease in Liberia of them are females; reason is they are the people who take care of sick people the most," said Nyenswah on the ELBC's Bumper Show.
"They are the people who play with dead people. Females, please don't kill yourselves, people sick if that's your husband, don't touch him at this stage insure that you call us we can take care of that."
Recently, a report from British Television, Sky TV highlighted the case of another nurse who like Kesselly contracted the virus by caring for a patient. In footage of the telecast, Nurse Elizabeth Smith is seen lying on a bed next to another nurse who had contracted Ebola from the same patient they had both treated. "But Ms Smith was significantly weaker than her co-worker. She did not raise her head as we entered and her bed was soaked in blood", the report said.
More than 400 people have died in what has now become the worst Ebola outbreak in history. An emergency meeting in Ghana kicked off Wednesday, called by the World Health Organization (WHO) to find the best way forward in preventing the outbreak from getting out of control.
The meeting brought together health ministers from the three affected countries will join officials from the neighboring Ivory Coast, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Senegal, as well as Uganda, DRC, Gambia and hosts Ghana. Most of the deaths have been in Guinea but there are an increasing number of cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The number of cases had risen from 635 on 23 June to 759, a 20% increase, according to WHO. Most of the deaths have been centered in the southern Guekedou region of Guinea, where the outbreak was first reported in February.
"This makes the ongoing Ebola outbreak the largest in terms of the number of cases and deaths as well as geographical spread," the WHO said in a statement announcing the two-day conference, which opened in Ghana's capital Accra, with 11 west African health ministers attending. "Decisions taken at this meeting will be critical in addressing the current and future outbreaks," it said.
No specific medicine or vaccine exists for the virus, which is named after a small river in the DR Congo. "So far we are free from Ebola, but we cannot rest on our laurels," a spokesman for Ghana's health ministry told AFP.
"We can't afford to have Ebola in Ghana and we also need to stop this from spreading in the other West African nations." (AFP) "We can't afford to have Ebola in Ghana and we also need to stop this from spreading in the other West African nations." (AFP)