Ebola vaccine impact depends on a strong health system

As a medical doctor responsible for the health of mothers and children in the nation of Sierra Leone, there is one job I never expected to have: chief undertaker.

For five months last year, I led the national team responsible for the safe burials of victims of Ebola, which was being transmitted as family members cared for the sick or grieved the dead. At the height of the epidemic, about one hundred people a week succumbed to the disease and it was hard to see the future or remember the past.

Fast forward 15 months. The first week of October marked the third consecutive week in Sierra Leone with no confirmed cases and all contacts of people previously diagnosed with Ebola have cleared as disease free. However, the risk of new cases remains, particularly in Guinea, where public health workers are following 509 contacts.

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