By Kai Kupferschmidt 2 December 2014 2:45 pm
Hans Rosling is a global health celebrity, a former head of the Division of Global Health at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm whose riveting lectures have made him a star of TED talks, and a fixture of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. But since 20 October, he has occupied room 319 of Liberia’s Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, a large yellow building not far from the Atlantic Ocean. Working alongside the country’s head of Ebola surveillance, Luke Bawo, he is helping the ministry make sense of the largest Ebola outbreak ever recorded.
When he saw the epidemic curve go up in Sierra Leone and down in Liberia in October, he was skeptical, and he decided to find out firsthand what was happening. He canceled his lectures and contacted the Liberian government. “I’m not a virologist and I’m not a clinician, but I have considerable experience investigating messy epidemics in poor parts of Africa,” he says.