Author and lecturer Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”. It is indeed a glorious endeavour to put other people’s welfare before one’s self; but what if this venture reaches the stage where a strong pull between life and death takes place? Can helping people still be considered as a noble cause worthy of all the sacrifices?
Doctor Victor Willoughby, one of Sierra Leone’s top physicians, has recently become the 11th doctor who had died because of the dreaded Ebola virus. Doctor Willoughby, after being diagnosed with Ebola on December 13, died on Thursday, December 18. Many volunteers and healthcare workers, especially those whom the senior physician had mentored, grew disappointed upon the doctor’s death hours before the ZMAb, an experimental drug developed in Canada, had arrived in West Africa. Few weeks ago, two doctors from the United States who have showed symptoms of Ebola have been responsive to the experimental drug, and so, most healthcare workers stationed in West Africa hoped that this could increase Willoughby’s chances of survival. Many hoped that the 67-year-old doctor would actually be able to survive had the experimental drug arrived sooner. Unfortunately, before the dose of ZMAb could be administered, the doctor had already died.
Ebola is a highly infectious and fatal disease which can be acquired through human-to-human interactions. This acute illness spreads through direct contact from one person to another through blood, bodily fluids, mucous membrane, secretions, and clothing contaminated with infected people’s fluids. It is for this reason why many health-care workers and volunteers have died days after assisting and treating people infected with EVD. Most people also refer to Ebola as the “caregiver’s disease” due to the fact that it is commonly transmitted to those individuals who care for those who suffer from the disease’s symptoms.
It is, indeed, incredibly depressing and frustrating how those people who are helping those individuals who are Ebola-infected are the ones suffering the symptoms of the said disease.
This death of one of Africa’s health workers is not something new for it is something which has actually been happening for quite some time ever since the Ebola outbreak has started. Over 350 healthcare workers have died because of the said virus, and up to this day, the number of victims who belong in the medicine industry is still increasing. In this case, it is important to note that if West Africa citizens are falling as victims of the virus as fast as health practitioners because this implies that the outbreak of Ebola is far worse than what most people know.
Being a healthcare worker is a demanding yet rewarding task. At present, many healthcare workers sacrifice their own health and safety to help those in need. What the international community ought to do now is to aid them in addressing Ebola and give much needed help to all the people suffering because of the Ebola virus.