This briefing explores how rumours about Ebola in Sierra Leone influences people’s perception and response to Ebola, from the political, historical and social perspectives. Despite the efforts of the World Health Organisation to control the Ebola outbreak, achieving zero cases and providing support for survivors, rumours about the cause of Ebola and the response to it continue to circulate. These rumours, a product of the initially over stretched and poorly implemented Ebola response, were more often linked to long-term issues of structural violence that also contributed to the unprecedented spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone.
Ebola rumours are thus an extremely fruitful way to elucidate both Sierra Leonean perceptions of Ebola and the response to it, and the multiple, global, political, economic and social inequalities that contributed to the outbreak. Although social mobilisation and sensitisation is important in the short-term, it is these issues that the Ebola response and those that dominate the current system of global health governance must grapple with to properly eradicate Ebola now and in the future.
Rosie Wigmore / 2015 / University of Sussex