An outbreak of fear, rumours and stigma: psychosocial support for the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in West Africa

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Abstract

This field report summarises the experience and lessons learnt by the author, who was deployed as an International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies psychosocial delegate to Liberia for the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in July and August 2014. Psychosocial issues encountered in the field, including fear in local communities and among aid workers, the spreading of rumours, heath measures interfering with traditional rituals and stigmatisation are discussed in detail. Also included are suggestions for dealing with these issues and actions taken during the mission. The importance of psychosocial support as a lifesaving matter in this outbreak is also highlighted. Finally, the author calls for initiation of sustainable mental health care and service development in affected countries, in order to maintain the momentum for change.

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