Online Program

In the Shadow of Ebola

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 12:44 p.m. - 12:51 p.m.

Gregg Mitman, PhD, Medical History and Bioethics, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI
  The film offers an intimate story of a family and a nation struggling against the Ebola outbreak in Liberia. We follow a Liberian student and his family living divided between the United States and Liberia. As the crisis unfolds, loved ones are isolated in Monrovia where the government is shut down, schools and markets are closed, and food prices are rising.

            Liberians find themselves fighting an invisible war that is painfully reminiscent of the chaos and confusion of the fourteen-year Liberian civil war, which ended a mere decade ago.  When the Liberian government responds to the crisis initially with military-enforced quarantines and curfews, mistrust and anger among Monrovia’s residents grow.

            As the death toll from Ebola climbs, and a quarantine results in the shooting and death of a 15-year old boy, mistrust and disbelief are replaced by compassion and inner resolve to combat the spread of the virus.  With international aid slow to arrive, Liberians turn to each other for help, as healthcare workers, musicians, and artists join forces on the front lines in public health education campaigns. The steps toward community empowerment and action help to build trust and stabilize the number of new Ebola cases.  But the ripple effects—food insecurity, overwhelmed medical infrastructure, and economic isolation—endure.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Protection of the public in relation to communicable diseases including prevention or control

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the need of building community trust in effective public health intervention. Describe the impact of the Liberian civil war on the public health infrastructure in Liberia and its consequences for containing the Ebola outbreak. Explain the impact of quarantines and travel bans on the individual lives of Liberians in both Liberia and the U.S.

Keyword(s): Diversity and culture

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a leading scholar on the history of science, medicine, and the environment in both the U.S. and Liberia. I have pursued archival research for nearly a decade and oral history research in Liberia over the last three years on the history of public health and American biomedical research 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.