It is unclear how public authorities shaped responses to Ebola in Sierra Leone. Focusing on one village, we analyze what happened when “staff, stuff, space, and systems” were absent. Mutuality between neighbors, linked to secret societies, necessitated collective care for infected loved ones, irrespective of the risks. Practical learning was quick. Numbers recovering were reported to be higher among people treated in hidden locations, compared to those taken to Ebola Treatment Centres. Our findings challenge positive post-Ebola narratives about international aid and military deployment. A morally appropriate people’s science emerged under the radar of external scrutiny, including that of a paramount chief.
We have posted key project presentations from Antwerp, Liverpool, Bo/Freetown and London https://responding-to-ebola.org/presentations/
A review and critique of current dynamics by Prof. Paul Richards, Ebola Gbalo Research Group
The Ebola outbreak in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is dramatically worsening. It began in August 2018, and there was a prompt and forceful international response. Treatment centres were rapidly put in place. Vehicles and equipment are available. An effective vaccine to protect front-line health workers has been deployed. And yet things are going from bad to worse.
The major voices in the international community explain this reverse by reference to the complex and chaotic war raging in the region. Ebola centres are attacked. Convoys are at risk. Health workers have been killed.
Voices on the ground, however, talk about another issue. People are dying in their communities, meaning that they either do not understand the disease, or they have not been mobilized to play a key role in the response.
The West African epidemic was considered a wake-up call and the international agencies heeded the warning. Could it be, however, that the wrong lessons were learnt?
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