Preparing for the next Ebola: A community- engaged approach to infection prevention and control
Drawing on the experience of health care workers and residents in Sierra Leone, Liberia, South Africa, Kenya and other African nations; organizations including CDC, WHO and the Infection Control Africa Network; and of leaders in community engagement and infectious disease, we present an eight step model for creating an environment emphasizing reciprocal learning and trust, multi-method, bi-directional communication, assessment, and building for sustainability. Using examples of changes in burial and other practices in west Africa that were culturally relevant yet maintained safety, we illustrate how often minor adjustments to the IPC protocol, taking into account the “community protocol” (cultural values, customs and practices) were able to improve community receptivity and discourage practices such as the hiding of ill family members and unsafe burials.
Outbreaks of Ebola tend to occur in 4 year cycles, with similar cyclic patterns seen with other Viral Hemorrhagic Viral Fevers (VHFs). Although preparation for the next such outbreak must include greatly improved health and social care infrastructure, particularly in informal settements and other deeply impoverished areas, methods for approaching and actively engaging community leaders and members must also be a much greater part of infection prevention and control efforts.
Learning Areas:Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education
Identify 3 principles of community engagement that hold relevance for improving the prevention control of Ebola and related diseases Describe 2 examples of small adjustments to a traditional Viral Hemorrhagic Fever IPC safety protocol that may result in improved adherence, without compromising safety. List 3 questions that may be asked of residents to help identify respected informal community leaders
Keyword(s): Cultural Competency, Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: As a professor of health and social behavior at UC Berkeley, I spent years studying community engagement and developing community health partnerships. I have co-presented NIH- and Fulbright sponsored courses on community engagement to improve global health in South Africa, and worked with colleagues in and beyond Africa to develop a community-engaged response to Ebola. We subsequently submitted a successful CDC grant in this area to pilot this approach in Liberia
Any relevant financial relationships? No
I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.