March 2016 saw the Parliamentary launch of a report I co-edited for the Africa All Party Parliamentary Group. A summary of the launch and link to the report are below.
- Professor Aliko Ahmed, co-convener of the Better Health for Africa Group, Chair of Public Health Africa Initiative and a Director at Public Health England
- Kate Muhwezi, Sierra Leone Director Manager at Restless Development
- Susan Elden, DFID health adviser based in Sierra Leone during & after the outbreak
- Tom Hird and Samara Linton, Co-lead writers of the report at Polygeia
Closing remarks from DFID Minister: Nick Hurd MP, DFID Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Chair: Lord Chidgey
At Westminster between October 2014 and May 2015 the Africa APPG held a series of panel discussions on the international Ebola response in West Africa. Panellists who had worked in Ebola-affected communities stressed repeatedly that the response was being hindered by a fear and a lack of trust between national actors, international actors and affected communities. Consequently, the Africa APPG together with Polygeia launched an inquiry into attempts to engage the affected communities in the response.
The inquiry received 31 written submissions and held numerous evidence gathering meetings. To ensure the voices of affected communities were represented in the report, 23 key informants were interviewed. In Sierra Leone these were conducted by Restless Development and in Liberia by the Public Health and Development Imitative in Liberia.
The chief finding is that efforts to curb the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa were most effective when local leaders of affected communities led the demand for assistance from their governments and the international actors and played an essential leadership role in the management of that assistance.
The chief recommendation is that the UK government and non-governmental organisations should give higher priority to community ownership of health. This would strengthen local health systems and enable them to respond more effectively to a crisis.