Community Trust and the Ebola Endgame

What must be done in order to end the Ebola epidemic?

BWH’s Ranu Dhillon, MD, and J. Daniel Kelly, MD, of the Wellbody Alliance, co-authored a perspective piece in the New England Journal of Medicine to propose some answers to this pressing question, focusing specifically on Guinea.

The doctors outline the importance of gaining trust and enhancing community respect for response efforts as Ebola teams engage with communities and try to end the epidemic. In the article, they explain how community distrust, rooted in recent decades of misrule and political tumult, enables Ebola to persist. They write:

“In Guinea, community distrust enables Ebola to persist in areas where people continue to hide the sick, conduct funerals in secret, and elude contact tracing…We need to build trust with communities and enhance their respect for response efforts if we are to overcome these challenges and bring the epidemic to an end. Communities are not uncooperative because they are backward or uneducated. On the contrary, they harbor a distrust of Ebola response efforts that is completely rational, given their experience during recent decades of misrule and political tumult…”

Read the full perspective, called “Community Trust and the Ebola Endgame,” in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ranu Dhillon, MD, is a member of the BWH Division of Global Health Equity and an advisor to the president of Guinea on the Ebola response. J. Daniel Kelly, MD, is the co-founder of Wellbody Alliance, which works alongside Partners In Health in Sierra Leone.

Ebola, A Year After the Epidemic Began

December marked one year since the first case of Ebola was found in Guinea, leading up to the deadliest Ebola epidemic in history.

Rajesh Panjabi, MD, MPH, of BWH’s Division of Global Health Equity and co-founder and CEO of Last Mile Health, recently returned from Liberia where he has been working with the government and other partners to respond. He spoke with WBUR’s “Here and Now” about the outbreak, the progress we have made and the new challenges we are facing in fighting the disease.

Panjabi told WBUR: “Ebola anywhere is a threat to people everywhere, and so you cannot have almost zero with Ebola. You’ve got to get to zero cases.”

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