AHF Mourns Loss of Sierra Leone’s Dr. Khan; criticizes Lax Global Response to Ebola Outbreak

In Global, Sierra Leone by AHF

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) Medical Officer Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan (ON FAR LEFT, White Shirt & Khakis), who died at 39 of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) July 29, 2014 in Sierra Leone, pictured in a group photo with AHF and Sierra Leone Ministry of Health staff during the group’s first HIV/AIDS antiretroviral treatment (ART) training for staff and partners in Kenema. The picture, taken by the hall where the training was conducted, was taken on June 20, 2014 during the training, which took place from June 16 to 22, 2014 at the Kenema Government Hospital in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.


Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, the physician leading Sierra Leone’s response to an Ebola outbreak that has claimed the lives of over 600 people, succumbed to the disease Tuesday.  Khan, who also served part-time as Medical Officer for AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Sierra Leone Country Program, led  “…heroic efforts against Ebola…and was a passionate supporter of AHF’s HIV/AIDS clinic and mentor to its staff.”

AHF President Michael Weinstein expressed condolences to Khan’s family, friends and colleagues, thanked Médecins Sans Frontières for caring for Dr. Khan and criticized world leaders, noting   “…this outbreak has been unfolding for far too long without an appropriate global response.” 

FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE (30 July 2014) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today mourned the death of Dr. Sheik Humarr Khan, the physician who had been leading Sierra Leone’s response to a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has claimed the lives of over 600 people in Africa since February. Khan, 39, who also served part-time as Medical Officer for AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s Sierra Leone Country Program, succumbed to the disease Tuesday after being quarantined and cared for by medical providers from Médecins Sans Frontières at the isolation unit in the Kailahun District in Eastern Sierra Leone for several days.

“It was with truly profound sadness that we learned of the death on Tuesday of our esteemed colleague, Dr. Sheik Hummar Khan, who had been leading heroic efforts against Ebola in Sierra Leone since May 27th. To his family, friends and colleagues, we offer our heartfelt condolences and vow that his valiant work will not be forgotten,” said Dr. Penninah Iutung Amor, Africa Bureau Chief for AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “In a country that has fewer than 200 medical doctors in its entire public health sector, the loss of even one doctor is a loss too great. It is all the more so on the passing of Dr. Khan, for the intelligence, passion and commitment he brought to his work, be it with Ebola patients, AIDS patients or as a leading Lassa Fever specialist in the country. Dr. Khan was a passionate supporter of AHF’s free HIV/AIDS treatment clinic in Kenema Hospital, Sierra Leone, as well as a gifted and generous mentor to AHF’s junior staff there. He will be greatly missed.”

“To think that so respected and dedicated a physician as Dr. Khan died while working on the frontlines of both the AIDS epidemic and the Ebola outbreak in Africa saddens me tremendously, and his loss will be deeply felt in the communities he served and throughout AHF’s entire global family,” said Cynthia Davis, Assistant Professor, Medical Science Institute, Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles, California and a Board Member of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “It is hard for me to comprehend how AHF staff like Dr. Khan and others—including those in Ukraine, where there is war unfolding—keep going to work everyday under such life-threatening conditions. We are all the richer for Dr. Khan’s dedication and compassion, and all the poorer on his premature passing.”

“To the family and friends of Dr. Khan, I offer my sincere personal condolences as well as those of our entire AIDS Healthcare Foundation family of staff around the world—brothers and sisters in arms with him in the global fight against AIDS. I also would like to commend and thank Médecins Sans Frontières, who cared for Dr. Khan in his final days in Kailahun,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “I must also chastise world leaders for the lax global response to this deadly outbreak that has been growing in Africa since February. It seems MSF has been shouldering a disproportionate share of the global response to this latest resurgence of Ebola in Africa, while many in the media and in global public health paid no heed until Americans fell ill last week.”

Upon learning that Dr. Khan had been exposed and come down with Ebola, AHF had arranged to fly in gowns and other personal protective gear and chlorine (for use as a disinfectant) from Ghana and Kenya last week after an AHF staff member went to most of the major pharmacies with little success.

“I’d also like to say to the heroic staff of AHF as well as those in the Ministry of Health who continue to toil every day in the service of our patients in Sierra Leone: you occupy a very special place in our hearts. May you bask forever in the appreciation of all the people whose lives you have touched,” added Weinstein. “With heartfelt thanks, we acknowledge your continued presence on the front lines facing as a fitting and courageous tribute to Dr. Khan’s remarkable legacy.”

“While Ebola can be a deadly disease with a high mortality rate, it can be stopped,” Weinstein continued. “In this situation, the primary burden for containing this outbreak seems to have fallen on MSF, and we are grateful for their efforts. However, this outbreak has been unfolding for far too long without an appropriate global response. It is time for world leaders to step up and mount an effective and coordinated response to contain this deadly and growing Ebola outbreak.”

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