Tackling NTDs in the Wake of Ebola

Over several years, thanks largely to collaborative efforts between HKI and government health workers, the West African nation of Sierra Leone made significant strides toward eliminating or controlling neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Then in 2014 disaster struck with the Ebola outbreak. Beyond the tragic human toll, health services were disrupted and the work managed by HKI Sierra Leone shifted in priority.

Once the crisis subsided, the office pivoted back to its core mission, says Mustapha Sonnie, director of programs for HKI Sierra Leone. In the past year, work has resumed in treating and controlling lymphatic filariasis (elephantiasis), onchocerciasis (river blindness), schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminthiasis (intestinal worms).

While the Ebola emergency had forced the postponement of mass drug treatment campaigns in 2014, by early 2015 conditions warranted the resumption of campaigns in certain areas. The standard schedule for campaigns is now resuming.

When asked his motivation for staying in place during the crisis and resuming critical work on NTDs, Mr. Sonnie does not hesitate. “I am helping to save my people,” he says.