Lessons from Ebola affected communities: being prepared for future health crises.

March 2016

At Westminster between October 2014 and May 2015 the Africa APPG held a series of panel discussions on the international Ebola response in West Africa. Panellists who had worked in Ebola-affected communities stressed repeatedly that the response was being hindered by a fear and a lack of trust between national actors, international actors and affected communities.  Consequently, the Africa APPG together with Polygeia launched an inquiry into attempts to engage the affected communities in the response.

The inquiry received 31 written submissions and held numerous evidence gathering meetings. To ensure the voices of affected communities were represented in the report, 23 key informants were interviewed. In Sierra Leone these were conducted by Restless Development and in Liberia by the Public Health and Development Imitative in Liberia.

The chief finding is that efforts to curb the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa were most effective when local leaders of affected communities led the demand for assistance from their governments and the international actors and played an essential leadership role in the management of that assistance.

The chief recommendation is that the UK government and non-governmental organisations should give higher priority to community ownership of health. This would strengthen local health systems and enable them to respond more effectively to a crisis.