The Ebola situation has improved in Lofa County and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has decided to withdraw from the area. New actors have arrived to help and since 30 October there have been no more Ebola patients in the Ebola Management Centre (EMC) in Foya. The success of MSF’s intervention in northern Liberia can be considered a model of response, benefiting from a comprehensive approach and constant community involvement.
When MSF took over the management of the EMC in Foya in August 2014, the teams were not only faced with an overflowing patient load of up to 130 people a day but also had to deal with the population’s fear, denial and misinformation, as they had never experienced an Ebola outbreak before. Soon it became clear that the intervention could not only focus on isolating patients but that MSF needed to take a comprehensive and transparent approach if the virus was to be contained. Hence, the teams started to work on all six pillars of Ebola management, including isolation, outreach, safe burials, health promotion, psycho-social support and contact tracing. Ebola deeply affects family and community structures, forcing people to stop the most natural gestures like caring for their sick relatives or paying their last respects to the deceased.
“We are convinced that our all-encompassing approach, including open and transparent cooperation with communities, local authorities and partners, has led to this impressive reduction in the number of cases in Lofa County,” says Ettore Mazzanti, MSF Project Coordinator in Foya. “Trust and the understanding of the communities have been very important for the acceptance of our medical activities and, ultimately, in successfully containing the virus. Without understanding and adapted coping behaviours, it is impossible to reach zero cases.” (read more)