Academic Publication

A humanitarian response to the West African Ebola virus outbreak

Authors:
Linda M. Mobula
Jolene H. Nakao
Sonia Walia
Justin Pendarvis
Peter Morris
David Townes
Source:
Journal of International Humanitarian Action
Contributor:
Publication Year:
2018
May 06, 2020
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Background:

The 2014–2016 Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa was of unprecedented magnitude with a total of 28,616 suspected, probable, and confirmed cases reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

The international humanitarian community utilized its expertise in rapid response and scale up in emergency situations to manage a threat different from the more common humanitarian emergencies resulting from conflict or natural disaster.

Unique multisectoral partnerships forged between traditional public health actors and humanitarian actors facilitated mutual learning and opened the door to ongoing working relationships that will hasten efficient and effective response to future global public health emergencies.

Conclusion:

Given its scale and scope, the 2014–2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa required an unprecedented collective response requiring strong and unprecedented coordination between a variety of actors, including traditional public health actors and development and humanitarian actors. While traditional public health actors with previous experience in Ebola response provided their expertise, development actors provided in country experience due to their longstanding presence, along with knowledge and the trust of the local communities, and the international humanitarian community provided experience working within the humanitarian architecture and the ability to rapidly scale up a response. This combination played a pivotal role in mounting the immense response needed to control the largest Ebola outbreak in history. Operational coordination, the scale and speed of logistics needed, and the need for immediate action were key challenges that the humanitarian framework helped address. The unique multisectoral partnerships forged between traditional public health and humanitarian actors facilitated mutual learning and opened the door to ongoing working relationships that will improve response to future global public health emergencies.

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