In this 2016 interview Hans Rosling reflects on his role in the response to the 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. Rosling traveled to Monrovia, Liberia in October 2014 to assist the Incident Management System (IMS) with modeling the spread of the disease. He describes Liberia’s case monitoring systems and the challenges of coordinating data collection and epidemiological surveillance. Rosling discusses how domestic and internationals responders coalesced into an organized force for disease control and treatment. When the large numbers of cases in West Africa crashed a CDC-provided database called Epi-Info, Rosling switched to a system of Excel spreadsheets. He also introduced daily situation reports to update the response team members about the status of cases across the country and served as a powerful communicator of the story behind the data.
Hans Rosling was a Swedish physician, academic, statistician, and public speaker. He was Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet, where he led the Division of International Health (IHCAR) from 2001 to 2007. In 2005, he co-founded the Gapminder Foundation, which makes development data freely available and easy to analyze and visualize with the goal of promoting sustainable global development. Rosling held presentations around the world, including several TED Talks in which he promoted the use of data to explore development issues. Throughout his career Rosling focused on community-based epidemiology. After studying medicine and public health at Uppsala University (Sweden) and St. John's Medical College (India), he served as a public health officer in post-Independence Mozambique. He then helped Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, and other countries identify and track a rare paralytic disease, which he discovered arose from poorly processed cassava. In the early 1990s, he worked in Cuba to help respond to an epidemic of neuropathy that occurred there. He co-founded Doctors Without Borders Sweden and long-time adviser to WHO and UNICEF. Rosling supported the response to the 2014 West African Ebola Outbreak and traveled to Liberia to assist in October of that year.