A SIERRA Leone Ebola patient whose family sparked a hunt when they forcefully removed her from a treatment centre and took her to a traditional healer, died in an ambulance on the way to hospital.

Health officials say fear and mistrust of conventional health workers in the country, where many have more faith in traditional medicine, are hindering efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak which has killed more than 450 people. Crowds gathered outside clinics and hospitals to protest against what they see as a conspiracy, in some cases clashing with police as they threatened to burn down the buildings and remove the patients.

Amadu Sisi, a senior doctor at King Harman hospital in the capital Freetown, from which the patient was taken, said that police found her in the house of a healer.

Loading article content

Her family refused to hand her over and a struggle ensued with police, who finally retrieved her and sent her to hospital, he said.

"She died in the ambulance on the way to another hospital," Sisi said.