Conflicting messages on the length of time that Ebola remains in semen after recovery make education and prevention confusing. We need to avoid mixed messages and focus on girls’ rights, says anthropologist Pauline Oosterhoff. When I met members of a women’s secret society in Sierra Leone this February, they proposed drastic measures to stop Ebola from spreading through sexual contact. All survivors should be quarantined for three months, they said. Male survivors need to be locked up because they cannot control their urge to have sex. Women Continue reading →
The present document is the eighth and final report in a series presenting descriptive results of a survey of responses to Ebola and Ebola control in 26 villages in all three provinces of rural Sierra Leone, fieldwork for which was undertaken in December 2014. The report covers three villages in Gbo chiefdom, in Bo District. Some emphasis is placed on how inconsistencies of Ebola response are perceived at local level, and undermine trust. Ebola responders should not only improve the quality of their messages, but Continue reading →
The four villages in this report are found on the edge of the Gola Rainforest National Park, Sierra Leone and have been studied by members of the present team at intervals since 1987. The aim of this long-term study was to understand social composition and social change in forest-edge communities, and how these communities were adapting to conservation rules and opportunities. These villages have now been restudied as part of the SMAC community mobilization program for prevention of Ebola Virus Disease. This study, which was Continue reading →
This study aimed to support Oxfam’s Public Health Promotion (PHP) strategy through a rapid qualitative assessment of the remaining social barriers to compliance with Ebola prevention and treatment messages. At the time of the study, most Liberians had a high awareness of Ebola prevention and treatment information. However, new infections continued to occur in “hot spots” around the country. A preliminary assessment suggested that negative perceptions and fear of Ebola response efforts contributed to non-compliance and resistance in some areas. Research activities assessed the sources Continue reading →
In December 2013, the West African Ebola epidemic began in a village near Guéckédou, a trading town in rural Guinea, but the disease wasn’t identified until February. The Guineans promptly notified health officials in neighboring countries, and in Liberia a team of researchers immediately set out for Lofa County, just over the border from Guéckédou, where a number of mysterious deaths had recently occurred. The Liberians at first assumed the deaths were caused by Lassa fever, a far less deadly disease with symptoms similar to Continue reading →
Ebola’s reputation is fearsome. Its horrifying symptoms, quick human-to-human transmission, and exotic locale seem ready-made for a thriller movie. Indeed, in the midst of the largest Ebola virus outbreak ever, a real-time script is emerging. The story goes something like this: tribal habits, including archaic burial customs and a penchant for bush meat, have led to the emergence and spread of Ebola virus disease. The solution to the terrifying epidemic is to put patients in treatment centers, which are set up and staffed by foreign Continue reading →
This comment piece identifies problematic assumptions behind communication and social mobilisation strategies which rely on using biomedicine to correct local logics and concerns and which cast them as misinformation. The effectiveness of using standardised advice for non-standardised situations is questioned.
This brief summarises some key considerations about the flow and control of money in relation to the Ebola response. The details have been collated from suggestions and insights provided by networks of anthropologists who work in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea (both in country and remotely). These are general considerations that are broadly relevant, but further investigation into local specificities is required. The French version of the brief is available here.
This working paper reports on a study to identify the pace of Ebola-related social learning in urban and peri-urban areas around Monrovia, Liberia during August 2014, at the onset of the emergency phase of the epidemic. The research demonstrates how under conditions of accelerating health crises, social learning is rapid even in a context of heightened instability, suspicion, and misinformation. Misleading information in the form of local rumours and unhelpful government and international healthcare messages complicate this process and can produce anxiety. However, contrary to Continue reading →
This working paper reports on a study to identify epidemic control priorities among 15 communities in Monrovia and Montserrado County, Liberia. Data were collected in September 2014 on the following topics: prevention, surveillance, care-giving, community-based treatment and support, networking/hotlines/calling response teams and referrals, management of corpses, quarantine and isolation, orphans, memorialization, and the need for community-based training and education. The study also reviewed issues of fear and stigma towards Ebola victims and survivors, and support for those who have been affected by Ebola. The findings Continue reading →