Coronavirus: 5 key lessons from the 2014 Ebola outbreak
When Ebola hit Liberia in 2014, W. Gyude Moore was working as deputy chief of staff for President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
He had a front row seat as the administration battled the virus; and has important messages for policy-makers in Africa as they confront the coronavirus pandemic.
Here W. Gyude Moore’s top 5 recommendations to policymakers in Africa today:
- “It starts off as a health crisis, but it is always going to become a governance crisis”. Ensuring that the connections between the centre and provincial governments work is key, as “the state will get tested”.
- Trust is essential. “A government where there is no trust between the people and the government will suffer, because you require the collaboration of the people to [fight the pandemic].” Using trusted messagers like traditional leaders, pop stars or religious leaders was vital for Liberia to help transmit key messages around hand washing and social distancing.
- Testing is vital. Even for states with limited resources, “you have to invest upfront in testing”, and reach out to partners who can assist.
- In places where healthcare systems are fragile, you must select a site, be it an existing hospital or tent hospitals that can be built, so that as soon as anyone reports symptoms related to the virus, they go directly to specialised clinics. “You want to separate the incident response from the regular healthcare facilities”.
- Isolation must be the top priority to break the transmission chain. Straightforward though it might be, implementation is key. “People get tired of behaviour change, tired of social distancing, so it is incumbent on the state and authorities to enforce it.”
Moore is now a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development in Washington D.C.
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