Published on 11 Nov 2014

The value of a human life in Sierra Leone? $5,000

I revisited Devil Hole Junction and found that Aminata, who we filmed yesterday very sick from Ebola, died at about 8.30 last night.

Her semi-naked body had been writhing around next to a very public track when she died. She had suffered in the blazing sun all day.

There is no cordon – people pass close to her body. Nobody has any protective equipment here.

Mohammed, who we also filmed yesterday (see the film at the bottom of the page), is alive but has now been waiting around 30 hours for an ambulance. He looks sicker today.

All this as the Sierra Leone government announces $5,000 compensation for every health worker who has died. The value of a human life here, it seems.

Tony Blair, patron of an NGO working in Sierra Leone, is in Freetown today. We shall be speaking to him.

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4 reader comments

  1. Winston Ojukutu-Macauley Jnr says:

    It is rather unfortunate that we journalists most times when dealing with issues relating to Africa, we have to be so cheap and disgusting in our reporting. Honestly, having lived in the UK and worked in the Media there for many years, I wanted to reply to this man’s report, but again, i asked myself is it worth the efforts. No……just treat it with the contempt it deserves. We are working hard and will continue to work hard to get rid of Ebola, then we will find time to answer to the likes of Alex Thomson…….

  2. Ben Keene says:

    Excellent and sobering reporting. More beds, seems simple – but having spent the last 5 years visiting Sierra Leone (to set-up and support eco-tourism project Tribewanted) this is not that easy. Infrastructure has only just started to be built and good progress was happening before ebola, but clearly not enough to handle the speed of the virus spread.

    Personally I don’t think the answer is bandaid30 as that will just stigmitize the negative perception of Africa for another generation (ebola is in 4 out of 54 countries). I’m sure there is plenty of funding flowing in, but getting these makeshift hospitals (and staff) up and running clearly takes time. I hope sooner rather than later for the sake of the good people of Sierra Leone.

  3. Nick Turner says:

    So we are treated to a visual account of a woman dying, in the finest tradition of a David Attenborough wildlife presentation of life in the raw. I’m sure that’s not how those responsible for the piece felt at the time but that is how it comes across. Was it Ebola that killed her – no signs of extensive bleeding – or was it something else, aggravated by neglect and dehydration?

    By now it should be pretty obvious that Ebola is not going to be cured by high-tech means and that treatment at street level may be the only option; and it has to be simple. I have the impression from the many reports that it is mainly the poor who suffer, leading me to wonder if poor nutrition and compromised immune systems are giving the victims less than a fair chance. High strength Vitamin C and D supplements could be tried at very little cost and are in plentiful supply. There appears to be significant evidence that they work for other serious conditions, such as pneumonia and it has been reported that Ebola, being a haemorrhagic disease, depletes the body’s Vitamin C resources very rapidly.

    Watching people die while waiting for the official ‘cure’, without trying even the simplest of alternative approaches, seems almost criminal. There is scope for a more much more probing story here.

  4. alfred nelson bock says:

    To take away this deadly virus from this nation the health team must call for reinforcement and add up hospital,even kits to combat this deadly virus from the nation.

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