Via The Lancet: Ebola crisis: beliefs and behaviours warrant urgent attention.
Why is this 25th outbreak of Ebola in Africa presenting an impending geopolitical crisis?
This is the first recognised outbreak in the west Africa region; the communities are not familiar with Ebola virus. Health beliefs, cultural practices, and human behaviour have combined to fan the dispersal of the disease. The concerns of the west African people, the myths, and conspiracies need to be heard and understood before communities will sufficiently engage to reduce further spread.
Civil unrest is a feature of this humanitarian disaster; suspicion and aggression towards health workers is widespread. The US and British military are indeed best resourced to build field hospitals; but their arrival is being seen on the ground, by some, as an invasion. These fears need to be addressed.
The socioeconomic collapse of the worst affected countries, already causing food insecurity, could exacerbate the destructive effects of Ebola, and create violence. The delivery of effective infection control measures and health care will be challenging under the threat of regional conflict.
This humanitarian disaster will deepen in spite of committed efforts of governments, unless we can understand and address the human beliefs and behaviours fuelling this crisis.