Restoring Trust, Quelling Fear Critical To Addressing Ebola In DRC

Christian Science Monitor: The calm for Congo’s Ebola storm
Editorial Board

“…[O]fficials have pinpointed a key reason for the lack of progress against [Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)]: fear itself. … In a study of Congo’s crisis published in March, scholars discovered that fewer people sought medical care as fear of the disease rose. The fear has stayed one step ahead of the facts. … Some global experts have called for the European Union to send a ‘white-helmeted security battalion’ to the area. … Yet militarizing the Ebola-hit area with foreign forces may not be the answer. In fact it may only add to a deeper cause of the outbreak: a general mistrust of outsiders bred by a vacuum of governance in eastern Congo after decades of conflict. Restoring trust is now essential to quell the fear. Biodefense first requires a buy-in by local communities. That means greater transparency and consistency in delivering humanitarian aid as well as better communication about goals and methods. Medicine alone is not sufficient. What’s needed immediately is a cease-fire in the area, perhaps brokered by international leaders and Congolese officials. This would create a comfort and a calm that might allow health workers to operate safely. Only by loosening the grip of fear can Congo conquer the grip of Ebola” (5/15).