Tue | Nov 20, 2018

Jamaican angel in Liberia

Published:Saturday | November 1, 2014 | 11:37 PMErica Virtue
File Dr Coril Curtis-Warmington (center) and members of her team in Liberia in 2008, (from left) Larry Golin, Melissa Smith, Rick Smith, Marian Stewart and Dr Jack Sorg.

Courageous local doctor's call for colleagues to join her in Ebola fight in West African nation met with quiet rebuff

Erica Virtue

Senior Gleaner Writer

Jamaican medic Dr Coril Curtis-Warmington has urged colleagues in Jamaica to join her in Liberia, one of the countries at the epicentre of the Ebola outbreak, to get first hand experience in treating the deadly virus which has claimed some 5,000 lives so far.

Curtis-Warmington made the call last Friday as she spoke by Skype from Liberia to the 10th annual scientific symposium and general meeting of the Caribbean Association of Clinical Microbiologists (CACM),

held at the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

"It is not easy, but even short term. Just for two weeks. Please consider it because we really need you," she begged in her final comments at the end of the 45 minutes link.

Whispers of "who me?" were immediately heard from medical professionals following the plea, but Professor Marvin Reid - who chaired the live interview session - promised that as vice chair of the Medical Association of Jamaica (MAJ) he would present her call to his colleagues via that route.

Curtis-Warmington said she first went to Liberia in 2006 as part of a Christian medical and non-medical missionary group, and while the Ebola outbreak has affected the work of the group, the members are not daunted.

"It has deepened the work of the group. Yes, it has curtailed us in advancing some of the programmes that we target, but it has really been a booster for our programme," she said in her opening comments on the effect of Ebola on the work of her missionary team.

According to Curtis-Warmington, Liberians are appreciative of the, "genuineness of us being here to work alongside them ... we want our colleagues in Jamaica to know that it is not just being in another country."

"We are really here to work side by side our Liberian colleagues and our brothers and sisters," she stated.

When Reid, asked about the challenges being faced in dealing with Ebola, given the fear among health professionals here, Curtis-Warmington charged that fear was as much to be blamed for the death toll as the virus itself.

"Professor, that is an excellent question. It is the fear that caused the deaths of most persons who suffer from Ebola. The fear of those who are taking care of them, and because we recognise early and hopefully very quickly, we were able to save a lot of persons from dying," responded Curtis-Warmington who did not say when she will return to Jamaica.

Two weeks ago, there was pandemonium at the Mandeville Regional Hospital when news spread that a Nigerian national showed up at the hospital with symptoms which initially sounded like Ebola.

For more than nine hours the man was placed in a waiting room in the accident and emergency department even as heath professionals.

After an assessment it was found that the man was suffering from the effects of food poisoning.