Do you have insight on the Ebola epidemic response? Write a blog for ALNAP!

13 Jan 2021
Do you have important reflections on the Ebola response? Do you work with someone who does?

To mark the launch of our latest lessons paper Responding to Ebola epidemics we are seeking short blog posts from humanitarian practitioners and researchers sharing how they relate one or more of the lessons in the paper to their own work. Contributors may also wish to comment on the Ebola response or recovery in the context of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

UNICEF coordinators and volunteers using illustrations to help educate people about the Ebola outbreak. Credit: World Bank.

The paper provides lessons for humanitarian practitioners on the response to these since 2014. Some of the findings – such as the lessons on coordination, funding and economic recovery – may also be relevant in responses to other epidemics and the current Pandemic.

We are keen to share insights from humanitarians in a range of roles and locations around the world. If appropriate, please share this opportunity with your networks.

To pitch a blog post or for more information, please email us at comms [at] alnap [dot] org

In the first blog in the series, (see sidebar) Ella Watson-Stryker (MSF) reflects on the importance of community engagement in epidemic response.

Unsure of how your expertise can contribute to the blog series? Please find below all the lessons featured in the paper.

Section A // Lessons on healthcare, WASH and body management

LESSON 1: Healthcare workers and volunteers should be provided appropriate resources and wages, as well as psychological support

LESSON 2: WASH is a fundamental pillar of an Ebola response, especially with regards to infection prevention and control, body management, community engagement, and promotion of health-seeking behaviours

LESSON 3: Burials should be conducted by trained and specialised teams, who should also adapt safe burial practices to the deceased’s relatives’ cultural and emotional need

Section B // Lessons on context, communication and community engagement

LESSON 4: Epidemic surveillance and case detection efforts should be based on local contexts and community involvement

LESSON 5: Health communication should prioritise messaging and methods that are inclusive, culturally appropriate and trusted

LESSON 6: Top-down solutions are insufficient; the Ebola response should be owned by families, relatives, local leaders and local health agents. These actors should be recognised as experts in their own contexts

LESSON 7: Community engagement should not be one-size-fits-all. Communities are not homogenous, and responders should understand contextual power relations between groups to ensure a community-led response that is inclusive and relevant to all

LESSON 8: The political, sociological and economic context in which an outbreak occurs should be considered when designing and implementing an Ebola response. It is useful to be aware of population’s legitimate frustrations and being sensitive to people’s feelings and other competing needs

LESSON 9: Gender roles have specific consequences in the context of Ebola. The response should make sure that all gender groups are equally heard and involved in all aspects of the response, including decision-making.

LESSON 10: The involvement of the military (either foreign or domestic) should be considered very carefully. Military troops can play a significant role in providing logistical support to the response, but their involvement can also be seen as coercive, and thus may be counterproductive

Section C // Lessons on Ebola’s effects on healthcare, mental health, protection, education and livelihoods

LESSON 11: Epidemic control measures should be implemented in a way that protects the health, safety and dignity of individuals and communities

LESSON 12: Resources should not be focused solely on fighting Ebola; ongoing healthcare provision should be supported during an epidemic response

LESSON 13: Ebola survivors should not be forgotten. Health complications due to the virus last long after a person has been cured of the infection, and survivors experience stigma, psychological trauma and economic difficulties

LESSON 14: Ebola is traumatic. People experience fear, stigmatisation, grief and trauma. Psychosocial support should be part of the Ebola response

LESSON 15: Ebola outbreaks can create threats to people’s safety, which should be addressed as an integral part of the response

LESSON 16: Measures to fight Ebola have negative effects on the economy. Cash and voucher assistance can support affected households and Ebola survivors to not only cover their basic needs (food, shelter, school fees, etc.), but also to protect their livelihoods, both during and after the outbreak

Section D // Lessons on coordination and funding

LESSON 17: No single coordination model has emerged as most effective but ensuring clarity of roles and responsibilities is important across contexts

LESSON 18: Resources to respond to Ebola should be agile and follow best medical and epidemiological practices while also meeting all of the basic needs of the affected population