The Lancet Global Health Blog

Dr. Peter Hotez, President of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Remko van Leeuwen, Project Director of the EU-supported HOOKVAC Consortium, discuss the link between hookworm and Ebola.

"The latest December Ebola Situation Report from WHO indicates that Sierra Leone currently has the highest total number of reported cases — almost 8000 — having recently overtaken Liberia. Whereas the number of Ebola cases in Liberia has started to decline over the past month, the epidemic in Sierra Leone still shows no sign of coming under control any time soon.

Sierra Leone has a population of approximately 6 million people and even before Ebola struck, this nation was considered one of the worst in Africa in terms of life expectancy at birth (45 years for men, 46 for women) and other health indicators, as well as expenditures on health per capita. According to the UN Development Programme, the extreme poverty and low educational attainment in Sierra Leone account for its awful human development index (HDI) — today Sierra Leone ranks 183rd out of the 187 countries ranked according to their HDI. These factors, together with a decade-long civil war that ended in 2002, played an important role in disabling Sierra Leone’s health system and enabling Ebola virus infection to reach epidemic levels. As a result, WHO is aggressively working to rebuild Sierra Leone’s health system while simultaneously combating the Ebola outbreak."