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Call for written evidence on community led health systems and the Ebola outbreak

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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.

Read the questions and find out how to submit evidence here

Date: 27 March 2015