The deadly Ebola virus disease (EVD) has again struck at the nation’s already staggering medical workforce. This time a young Liberian medical doctor, Thomas S. Scotland, fell prey to the virus on Saturday morning.
Dr. Scotland leaves behind his four very young children and a widow who is expecting their fifth child.
He died at the Government of Liberia-run Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) within the compound of the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Monrovia.
The late Dr. Scotland, who was a member of the University of Liberia's A.M. Dogliotti Medical College's 2013 graduates, was interning with the John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Sinkor before Ebola crossed over from neighboring Guinea to Liberia.
As the virus raged on in the country, he decided to volunteer his service in the cause of humanity at the JFK ETU.
According to reports, he was one of six persons including health workers at the JFK ETU who contracted the disease nearly three weeks ago.
Four of the six, including Dr. Scotland, have now died. The last two are said to be "very critical," our Health Correspondent was informed.
One of Dr. Scotland's close friends, who asked that his name not be mentioned, said the late doctor was someone who was "down to earth and was close to the masses. Imagine he was a medical doctor with some privilages, yet he was always peddling his bike to work." Dr. Scotland did “security jobs just to pay his undergraduate fees,” Dr. Scotland’s friend revealed.
The deceased’s friend also told the Daily Observer that his (Dr. Scotland's) internship would have been over this December, unfortunately, his "candle light is now lost in the wind."
One of Liberia’s oldest Dentists, Dr. Ayele Ajavon Cox, disclosed to the Observer that Dr. Scotland had wanted to specialize in maxillofacial surgery. “We were in the process of scouting for a scholarship for him to go for further studies; this is so sad,” Dr. Ajavon-Cox lamented.
A Maxillofacial surgeon treats many diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and Cranio-maxillofacial (jaws and face) region.
Dr. Vuyu Golakai, Dean of the A.M. Dogliotti, told our Health Correspondent that "five years of hard work is lost."
Dean Golakai also lamented that his former student was just in his prime to begin reaping the fruits of his labor of five years and now it has all been lost to Ebola.
He stated that he and others were shocked when they received the news of Scotland’s death, adding that from what he had heard, Scotland was not directly in harm’s way in the ETU.
“This brings to light some of the things I have been saying. We are managing Ebola in this country without a standard protocol,” Dr. Golakai contended. “Every treatment center is doing its own thing; it shouldn’t be that way. By now, we should have a standard procedure for all the treatment units to follow. This is how it is done everywhere around the world and those who know how to handle such viral diseases have been left out of the management process,” Dr. Golakai charged.
It is not yet crystal clear what the Government of Liberia will do for the survivors of Dr. Scotland. The GOL recently announced a US$5,000 flat death benefit to the survivors of each healthcare worker, who lost his/her life to Ebola.
At the meeting during which the death benefit was announced, Finance and Development Planning Minister Amara Konneh had said: “When Ebola struck our country, it was our healthcare workers that were hurt the most. These men and women are the soldiers on the frontline of this fight and so we must appreciate the sacrifices they are making.”
Meanwhile Dr. Scotland was yesterday buried in the Mount Barclay area, outside Monrovia. He is yet to be added to the record of 96 deaths of the 209 health workers who have so far contracted the virus, between March 22 and October 13 of this year.