Prioritising Community Engagement to Strengthen Health Systems in Ebola Recovery
Enormous progress has been made in the fight against Ebola, but there are still new cases occurring in Sierra Leone and Guinea, and sadly also again in Liberia. Evidence from earlier outbreaks shows that when the region is declared Ebola-free, there is a 30 percent probability that the disease will re-emerge within one year, and a 50 percent probability within two years. It is vital that the lessons are learned from earlier outbreaks and from the most recent response.
Community engagement is now widely recognized as a critical component of responding to Ebola. It is medically essential, not just a 'nice to have'. But at the outset of the response there was a disproportionate focus from governments, the UN and donors on providing medical facilities, equipment, medicines and health workers, and too little focus on prevention: social mobilization and empowering communities.
This paper outlines priorities for successful and sustainable community-based health systems. It provides specific recommendations for the Ebola Recovery Pledging Conference in July 2015.