Briefings and Guides

Short briefings and guidelines relating to the current Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Sierra Leone: Gift giving during initial community consultations

This brief summarises appropriate gift giving during initial community consultations in Sierra  Leone. It is intended to provide an overview of good practices to support UNICEF, the WHO and other agencies as they interact with Paramount Chiefs prior the implementation of CCCs. It does not focus on the community consultation process more broadly, but specifically on gift giving during the first meeting. The details have been collated from suggestions and insights provided by networks of anthropologists in the UK and US who work in Sierra Continue reading →

Do Funerals Spread Ebola?

Some attention has been paid to the alleged role of funerals in spreading Ebola Virus Disease in Upper West Africa.  This has led to attempts to control funerals, causing both distress and active resistance.  Critical examination of the role of the funeral event as a mechanism of Ebola transmission seems in order. In this paper, it is argued that funerals are inseparable from care for the sick, as far as Ebola transmission is concerned.  The focal issue then becomes not control of funerals but reduction Continue reading →

The AAA/Wenner-Gren Ebola Emergency Response Workshop

As of November 4, 2014, the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is confirmed to have infected 13,268 individuals, with 4,960 total deaths estimated. The global Ebola response is evolving rapidly, and as it has evolved, it has become increasingly apparent that the causes of this epidemic outbreak result from the underdevelopment of local regional healthcare systems, and several initial errors in the global Ebola response that lead to an underdevelopment of emergency response capabilities, and resulted in complications with triage, treatment, community mobilization and engagement, and communications efforts. Continue reading →

Field situation: How to conduct safe and dignified burial of a patient who has died from suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease.

WHO has developed a protocol to provide information on the safe management of burial of patients who died from suspected or confirmed Ebola virus disease. These measures should be applied not only by medical personnel but by anyone involved in the management of burial of suspected or confirmed Ebola patients. Twelve steps have been identified describing the different phases Burial Teams have to follow to ensure safe burials, starting from the moment the teams arrive in the village up to their return to the hospital or team headquarters after burial and Continue reading →

Regional food insecurity, work migration and roadblocks

This brief summarises some key considerations about food insecurity, the migration of men and youth  for work and the  implication these movements may have for the Ebola response. The details have been collated from  suggestions and insights provided by networks of anthropologists* who work Liberia, Sierra Leone  and Guinea (both in-­‐country and remotely). These are general considerations that are broadly  relevant to the movement of people during the dry season, but further investigation into local specificities is required. The French version of the report is Continue reading →

Mobilising informal health workers for the Ebola response: potential and programme considerations

Informal health workers are important care providers in the region and continue to be so during the current Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak. Many are well respected and trusted members of the community who can mobilise large numbers of people for a particular activity and lend legitimacy to a particular programme.    

Burial/Other Cultural Practices and Risk of EVD Transmission in the Mano River Region

While this briefing note identifies arenas of particular significance with regard to burial practices, such practices are not standardised, are likely to change as social responses to Ebola evolve, and therefore need to be discussed on a locality by locality basis. Key points are given in this policy brief, followed by a more substantial discussion of burial and cultural practices that increase risk of EVD transmission.

Local beliefs and behaviour change for preventing Ebola in Sierra Leone

‘The Ebola epidemic ravaging parts of West Africa is the most severe acute public health emergency seen in modern times.  Never before in recorded history has a biosafety level four pathogen infected so many people so quickly, over such a broad geographical area, for so long’ (Margaret Chan, 26th September 2014, WHO). This report focuses on the local beliefs and practices around illnesses and death, the transmission of disease and spirituality, which affect decision-making around health-seeking behaviour, caring for relatives and the nature of burials.  Continue reading →