Image Credit: DFID
A convoy of vehicles loaded with generators and other supplies from DFID arrives at the Kerry Town Treatment Unit in Sierra Leone.
It has been more than a year since the start of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and a disease which started with a fearsome reputation has delivered one of the most horrifying public health crisis in recent history.
The current situation remains precarious but the number of new confirmed cases has slowly started to fall. Correspondingly the Ebola response has started to shift from ‘contain and control’ to ‘getting to zero’ phases. Through much of this response international attention has focused on emergency medical rescue processes and the need for biomedical advances to provide solutions.
However, this familiar ‘outbreak narrative’ fails to capture the confusion and complexity of the underlying factors critical to the spread and control of what has become the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
A key factor in the spread and control of the Ebola epidemic is the role of the community. Containment strategies for the Ebola outbreak have been widely criticised for their authoritarian, top-down approach which often doesn’t take into account the cultural and political undertones influencing attitudes to health that exist in affected communities. This has led to a culture of mistrust between local communities and response efforts, dangerously undermining the latter and, in the worst cases, fuelling the epidemic. However, emerging evidence of effective local responses suggests that community-led approaches, and more broadly community engagement and ownership in health system strengthening, is essential to a successful response to a health crisis like Ebola.
The Africa APPG together with Polygeia seeks to explore the lessons from the Ebola crisis for community-led health systems strengthening through examining the current response to the Ebola crisis, and gathering evidence from experts and the affected communities in West Africa.
The Africa APPG invites written submissions from interested organisations and individuals on any or all of the questions below:
1. What lessons can be learnt from the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa regarding the role of communities in response to health crises, and more broadly in relation to health systems at the local level?
2. What more could the UK be doing to promote and enable the community engagement and ownership of health and health systems abroad particularly in African countries?
3. To what degree are the current policies, resourcing and programming of the UK Government promoting community engagement and ownership of health and health systems in low- and middle- income countries?
4. What are the principal challenges and gaps in responding to the Ebola crisis in rural and interior areas? What actions could be taken by the UK Government to improve that response?
5. What, if any, are the barriers to successful and sustainable engagement of communities in health crisis response?
6. What external policy, strategy and programming models could the UK Government support or adopt in order to improve their own and wider global response to this issue?
7. In your opinion, is there value in the stress testing of health system function and if so what models could the UK support to promote health system preparedness for future crises?
Written evidence submitted should:
- Include contact details of the submitting organisation together with a brief description
- Be no longer than 6000 words in length
- Include case studies and hyperlinks where relevant
Please note: The deadline for submissions has now passed. Please contact Hetty Bailey on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7219 8922 (Tues-Thurs) for more information.