Social Mobilization, Building Trust Within Communities Essential To Successful Ebola Response In Congo
Christian Science Monitor: To end an Ebola epidemic, listening helps
“For eight months, health workers in Congo have been battling the second-worst Ebola epidemic in history. … Compared with a massive outbreak of the virus five years ago in Western Africa, this time responders in the Central African country have much better medical tools. They are far more coordinated. Yet many are struggling to adopt a key lesson from the previous crisis: Before doing anything, listen to and address the fears of vulnerable communities. During the 2014-16 epidemic, acute panic as well as high suspicion of officials hindered the response. … Now in many parts of Congo, the response starts with volunteers going into villages and welcoming people to talk about their concerns, their knowledge of Ebola, and their preferences in dealing with it. These ‘social mobilizers’ also try to connect with religious and community leaders to understand cultural traditions and spread useful messages. … Such calls for more ‘social mobilization’ need to be heeded. Fear of diseases like Ebola can be contained by building up trust and by listening to local people. Compassion can be a balm for anxiety. It can also open a door for cooperation to end an epidemic” (3/8).