Screen Shot 2019-05-26 at 07.31.18.pngDear HIFA colleagues,

Below are the opening paragraphs from an opinion piece ‘Resetting the Ebola response in Congo means trusting the people affected’ in The New Humanitarian by Juliet Bedford, Director at Anthrologica, and Melissa Leach, Director at the Institute of Development Studies. Full text here:

After more than 1,240 deaths since the Ebola outbreak was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo last August, international agencies and partners are calling for a reset in the Ebola response – requiring the adoption of a strengthened strategy centred on community ownership.

This is an important move, drawing on lessons from the 2013-2016 West African Ebola outbreak in which local community initiatives, learning, and action – supported by more respectful engagement from outside agencies – proved key to controlling it…

The article refers to a very interesting compilation of data analyses from Ebola-affected communities in DRC from November 2018 and early February 2019.

In it, there is a table of commonly asked questions by community members, which include:

The vaccinated person, can they infect others? Does the vaccine kill female fertility?…
Who is paying the response teams? Is it true that the person who alerts gets $100?
Can the response team also raise awareness in hotels, bars,
Why are you taking the suspects by force? Is it necessary to burn the house of a sick person with Ebola?
Why so much focus on Ebola and not on the massacres or other diseases?
Can you recover? Can you survive Ebola?
How are they cared for in the ETC? Can patients eat? What medication do they take? Is it free? Is care good? Why are there not more ETCs?
Why are local nurses and doctors not included in the care, why only the doctors from outside?
Where does the virus come from? Why did it happen here in North Kivu and nowhere else?
Can you get Ebola when you walk with bare feet? What animals should we avoid eating?
Why haven’t we ever seen the real signs of Ebola like bleeding as on the posters? Does it really exist? Can you show a picture of people who are dying of Ebola?
Why do the SDB teams often bury only at night? Why does the SDB team dress themselves on site? Why don’t the burial teams get ill? Why do response workers not cry? Why do you forcefully bury people, with policemen?
Why did Ebola appear just when elections are coming up?

Suggestions from the community include:

We suggest you transfer your Ebola promotion films in the downloading booths where people sell music and movies on flash drives so that we can distribute them free of charge.
Outbreak control teams should work with chiefs and leaders. Healthcare workers should do radio shows to console the population. Send videos about the Ebola epidemic to everyone’s telephones.
Bring us pictures of people who are dying of Ebola here and not your leaflets.
Send us outreach workers who are able to speak in our mother tongue. Please explain the role of each NGO to us.
You must come to raise awareness politely, not come to impose yourselves on us – the first response team was brutal…
The vaccine team should work with chiefs / leaders as they are the driving force of any activity in their community.
Link local nurses and traditional healers to the response – “we want our own doctors, not foreigners”;
Teach us how to bury the bodies like you do.
Provide protection materials in case the emergency team does not come on time or the ETC is far (for those who live in the bush)
You need to do the home visits with a person who’s recovered

Best wishes, Neil

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