The Ebola virus disease epidemic of 2014–2015 was one of the most important public health threats this century – a crisis that challenged local governments and communities in Liberia, as well as Sierra Leone, Guinea, and governments around the world. The epidemic spread to affect over 28,000 cases, including over 4,800 deaths in Liberia. The country’s health system was still recovering from over 15 years of civil war, and had limited capacity to respond. The response was not hampered by poor infrastructure, and unreliable power and communications networks, but also by the limited trust that people had in government, including its inability to provide health services.
Community resilience played a critical role in turning around the epidemic in Liberia. Local leadership, community behaviour change, particularly related to reducing exposures to Ebola and dead body management, were instrumental in turning around the epidemic.
FHS Extension Phase
Future Health Systems’ activities in Liberia are intended to address gaps in understanding about the role of communities and community level resilience in the health system in Liberia. Specifically, the purposes are to:
- understand the experience in Liberia of identifying and building resilience at the community level in the context of the recent Ebola epidemic, combined with its post-war and unique socio-political history.
- identify future interventions and/or research to build community resilience to improve the health of disadvantaged people, respond adequately to future shocks in vulnerable communities, and be better poised to address long-standing population health problems.