Cambridge-Africa

Lack of community engagement bogged down research during the 2014-5 Ebola outbreak

20 April 2017

A detailed report on the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak in West Africa has found that a lack of community engagement bogged down clinical research during the epidemic. The report, ‘Integrating clinical research into epidemic response: the Ebola experience’ , was compiled by the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. It is currently available as a pre-publication by the National Academies Press.
The report argues that “fear, mistrust, and misunderstanding” were rife in stricken communities. This was characteristic of both the local and international responses, as well as for research staff.
The authors believe that local communities may be justified in their beliefs. They say there has been evidence of a “history of unethical and paternalistic research” on the people of West Africa, particularly by international researchers. The authors also argue that the success of clinical research during an epidemic is dependent on an affected community's understanding, involvement and respect in planning and conducting research. Read more

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