FREETOWN, Sierra Leone — A doctor in Sierra Leone has died of Ebola — the fifth local doctor in the West African nation to die of the disease, authorities said Monday.
The death of Dr. Godfrey George, medical superintendent of Kambia Government Hospital in northern Sierra Leone, was a blow to efforts to keep desperately needed health care workers safe in a country ravaged by the deadly virus.
Sierra Leone's health care system was already fragile before the Ebola epidemic because of past conflict and a lack of resources. The country had two doctors for every 100,000 people in 2010, compared to about 240 doctors for the same number of people in the United States, according to the World Health Organization.
George's overnight death was announced by Dr. Brima Kargbo, Sierra Leone's chief medical officer. George had been driven to the capital, Freetown, after reporting that he was not feeling well.
Doctors and nurses have been particularly vulnerable to contracting Ebola, as the virus is spread through bodily fluids.
Ebola is high on the agenda of a regional meeting of the World Health Organization that opened Monday in Benin, a West African nation that has not had any Ebola cases.
The Ebola epidemic has set back political stability and economic recovery in the afflicted countries of Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, WHO chief Margaret Chan said at the meeting. She also noted the disease's "heavy toll on frontline domestic medical staff."