About the network

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The Ebola Response Anthropology Platform enables social scientists and outbreak control teams to interact to develop a co-ordinated, adaptive and iterative response to the Ebola outbreak. We aim to build a more locally appropriate and socially informed outbreak response by providing clear, practical, real-time advice that engages with crucial socio-cultural and political dimensions of the outbreak.

Our core activity is providing rapid responses by e-mail, conference calls and web-based dialogues to operational questions raised by those working for NGOs, government and international agencies to contain the epidemic or care for those affected. We are able to develop policy briefings that are rooted in both the historical and rapidly changing contemporary context of affected communities by drawing upon existing anthropological expertise within our networks and undertaking targeted fieldwork.

Complementing our advisory role, we work proactively with health and humanitarian organisations to design, deliver and monitor more locally responsive and socially informed interventions and research on the ground. We achieve this by identifying, connecting up and supporting in-country anthropological and other social science capacity working in African countries affected by or at risk of Ebola outbreaks.

We also seek to contribute to global health policy more broadly by fostering critical debate and discussion in policy and practice circles on key anthropological priorities and concerns with the outbreak response, and advance a comparative perspective on Ebola and other emerging infections. See our statements, publications and upcoming workshops and conferences for more details.

The Ebola Response Anthropology Platform is funded by a grant from the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme. The £8 million R2HC programme is funded equally by the Wellcome Trust and DFID, with Enhancing Learning and Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA) overseeing the programme’s execution and management. The Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme aims to improve health outcomes by strengthening the evidence base for public health interventions in humanitarian crises. Visit www.elrha.org/work/r2hc for more information.

We collaborate closely with other Ebola response anthropology initiatives in the US, Europe and West Africa, including the Emergency Ebola Anthropology Network and the francophone SHS Ebola Network. Briefings, papers and resources produced by these networks will be uploaded onto the Platform website.

The Royal Anthropological Institute is a non-academic partner.

The Anthropology Platform is coordinated by academics from LSHTM, IDS, Sussex and Exeter. The core platform members are:

  • Ann Kelly (Platform Steering group member, University of Exeter)
  • Paul Richards (Platform Steering group member, Njala University College)
  • Esther Mokuwa (Platform Steering group member, Njala University College)

Convening the affiliated Emergency Ebola Anthropology Network is:

All our news, briefings and publications will be disseminated via the Emergency Ebola Anthropology Network’s listserv. We will also be using their discussion boards for open discussions between anthropologists and others interested in a social science perspective. Sign up here to join in the discussion.

We host several thematic working groups. These working groups were set up with the specific aim to identify experts in key areas who can contribute substantially to advice and policy discussions at very short notice. If you are interested in participating in one or more of these working groups, please email Fred Martineau with a brief summary of your interests and relevant experience.

Current thematic working groups are:

  1. Identifying/Diagnosing Cases. Responding to issues arising around the identification of new cases, including innovating new tools; stigmatization and fear; obstacles for self-presentation.
  2. Attending to the Dead. Supporting the production and dissemination of guidelines for safe and respectful burials; support burial teams; distinct gender roles in the management of the dead; trauma and provision for orphans.
  3. Care of the sick. Developing nuanced analysis about the location and practices of patient management, including protocols for home-based care and the location of Ebola Treatment Units
  4. Clinical Interventions and Research. Identifying the trials being carried out and link these with anthropologists who can feed into the design of research and link people conducting clinical trials with qualitative research who can best support participants and fieldworkers; discern emerging resistances/rumours; identify and work with survivors.
  5. Preparedness. Preparing the foundations for an anthropological response across regions at risk; explore healthcare histories and opportunities for resilience; points of zoonotic spillover and understandings and practices of human-animal exchange.

If you would like to contact or join the network please email us at ebola@ids.ac.uk