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Earning Trust Among Locals Critical To Preventing Ebola Outbreaks

IRIN: First Person: To stop Ebola, ask the rebels to help
Jean-Christophe Shako, Ebola response coordinator in Butembo in the Democratic Republic of Congo

“…Since [the Ebola] outbreak erupted in [DRC’s] North Kivu province last August, health teams knew they would face big challenges. The virus had resurfaced in a densely populated, heavily traveled urban region where about 100 armed groups operate, restricting the response. The risk of rapid geographic spread was very high. … As the Ebola response coordinator in Butembo, my role was to organize surveillance activities to find these contacts as quickly as possible — that means before they start showing symptoms, become contagious, and spread the virus. Very early on in this outbreak we got an indication of just how hard this was going to be. … Finding people who don’t want to be found is not an easy task. … Earning trust during such a deadly outbreak is always hard. … [R]espect, compassion, and humility can go a long way — even saving your life and the life of an entire community” (2/20).