(Photo: Amref Health Africa)
Nine authors, including seven staff members from Amref Health Africa published a study in the November edition of PAMJ entitled, “Challenges in controlling the Ebola outbreak in two prefectures in Guinea: why did communities continue to resist?” The study explores the significant gap between the population, the government and its partners in Guinea that resulted in the disastrous spread of the epidemic that to date, has killed over 11,000 people in the three affected West African countries, making it the largest Ebola outbreak ever.
Poor coordination between districts, lack of Ebola-specific training for health workers and lack of equipment and supplies in the field all contributed to a slow response to the virus. However, the situation was significantly worsened by inadequate communications, misconceptions about the disease, rumors, and the lack of involvement of local communities and leaders in developing strategies to control the epidemic and educate their communities.
This study reaffirms the importance of working within communities to affect change in low resource settings. In fact, when the authors conducted initial interviews with local residents and community-based organizations, their reaction was one of incredulity: “You are the first NGO that has come to tell us about Ebola and ask us about advice.” -Religious leader, Forécariah Centre