Letter To Editor, Opinion Piece Discuss Importance Of Community Engagement, Building Trust In DRC’s Ebola Response

Financial Times: Letter: Ebola response in DRC must engage communities
Tariq Riebl, Ebola response director at the International Rescue Committee

“…The main issue we are facing [in response to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)] is with community engagement and addressing the mistrust the local population has for the Ebola response. … We must reevaluate everything we are doing to ensure we work with the local population to explain the disease and the reasons behind the behavioral changes we are requesting. This response truly needs a reset that requires security of Ebola responders to be based on a common area-based security framework with community policing that benefits all and building trust in the Ebola response and its messaging. The people most affected by this outbreak must have their voices heard. Real community engagement means going beyond dialogue and changing our activities based on feedback from the community. … As people cross the border to Uganda and other neighboring countries every day, whether to flee violence and seek shelter, to conduct business or receive health care, the only way to stop the Ebola virus from spreading further is to stop it first in the DRC” (6/25).

Washington Post: Here’s why Ebola has been so hard to contain in Eastern Congo
Kim Yi Dionne, senior editor at the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and assistant professor in political science at U.C. Riverside, and Laura Seay, assistant professor of government at Colby College

“…Why has the current Congolese outbreak been so challenging for the government and other stakeholders to contain? Most reports focus on insecurity in eastern Congo. … But insecurity isn’t the only challenge hampering Ebola response. Recently published research drawing on data collected in the two deadliest outbreaks suggests one other major factor hampering response: citizen mistrust of government. … What would begin to build trust in this crisis situation? Research … suggests that working closely with local religious organizations is one potential avenue. Churches and mosques were the only institutions to survive the violence in many areas of eastern Congo, and most people have high levels of trust in community-based Catholic, Protestant, and Muslim leaders. Closely coordinating messaging with religious leaders about the symptoms, the need to go to health facilities for treatment, and changes to burial rituals may be the only avenue to build needed trust in the short time required to stem the outbreak” (6/25).

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