Sierra Leone is in mourning. We need look no further for a hero. This country has not produced one like him since the gallantry shown by those soldiers who helped end our brutal rebel war.
At 39 years, and the country’s only specialist in viral haemorrhagic fevers, Dr Shek Umar Khan could have landed a hugely lucrative job anywhere in the world. But he chose to return home to fight a medical war against viral diseases.
A man from Port Loko district in the north, he put himself forward to go to the east to fight, initially, Lassa Fever knowing very well that his predecessor Dr Aniru Conteh had died of the Lassa Fever he had been saving others from. Dr Khan braved it. And when Ebola emerged, he was a General who commanded his troops from the frontline and not from the cosiness of his office.
A man who died to let others live – he shall not see hell. He and his colleagues saved over 100 patients from the claws of Ebola, a disease that would later snatch him away. Very promising, very committed and very dedicated.
Sierra Leone has lost a son, who will be almost impossible to replace, especially at a time like this – our darkest moment since our war ended 12 years ago.
We humbly suggest, among other things, that the Kenema Government Hospital, where the viral haemorrhagic fever lab and wards are situated, be named after him.
It will be a befitting tribute to a man who also deserves our country’s highest national honour.
Rest In Peace, Dr Shek Umar Khan.