New Humanitarian: We can’t stop Congo’s Ebola outbreak until communities lead the response (2)

2 August, 2019

Neil thank you for sharing these extracts.

My first reaction is that everything in the posting is already common knowledge or am I mistaken? It is common knowledge because it has been circulated since the worst ever Ebola epidemic that killed over 11 thousand patients in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and elsewhere almost five years ago.

If it is already known why was it not replicated in DRCongo when this persisting epidemic started in September last year? Why would public health experts not implement proven strategies when intervening in an epidemic? Why would ‘helpers’ land in a foreign land and think that they can reach everyone everywhere without actively engaging with people who live, work and play there? Why should the local people not think that they (foreigners) have come with ulterior motive, infact they may accuse the new corners of bringing in the virus to decimate their communities, when they recall history of how foreigners infiltrated their continent in various guises, only to overwhelm them and exploit their resources, including enslaving them?

Ignorance fuels disease and both are fueled by poverty. All three abound in most of our world, therefore to conquer disease, ignorance and poverty must be attached frontally and that can only succeed by fully educating and working with the local community at all their existing levels.

This principle applies to any epidemic more so the very contagious Ebola virus disease. Let’s hope that now that the WHO has finally designated it a Global public health emergency it will attract more and appropriate response which must engage the local people.

That is not to belittle the gallant efforts made so far including people paying the greatest sacrifice with their lives, but may it not be like the west Africa situation in 2014 where the world eventually apologized for its initial delay and confused intervention.

No country no matter how far flung or near is safe, so long as the Ebola virus epidemic persists in DRCongo. That was the message learnt from the West Africa episode and the world needs to remember the message.

Joseph Ana

HIFA profile: Joseph Ana is the Lead Consultant and Trainer at the Africa Centre for Clinical Governance Research and Patient Safety in Calabar, Nigeria. In 2015 he won the NMA Award of Excellence for establishing 12-Pillar Clinical Governance, Quality and Safety initiative in Nigeria. He has been the pioneer Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) National Committee on Clinical Governance and Research since 2012. He is also Chairman of the Quality & Performance subcommittee of the Technical Working Group for the implementation of the Nigeria Health Act. He is a pioneer Trustee-Director of the NMF (Nigerian Medical Forum) which took the BMJ to West Africa in 1995. He is particularly interested in strengthening health systems for quality and safety in LMICs. He has written Five books on the 12-Pillar Clinical Governance for LMICs, including a TOOLS for Implementation. He established the Department of Clinical Governance, Servicom & e-health in the Cross River State Ministry of Health, Nigeria in 2007.


Joseph is a member of the HIFA Steering Group:

Email: jneana AT