Responding to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa: What Role Does Religion Play?

May 16, 2016

The 2014 Ebola epidemic was a human and a medical drama that killed more than 11,000 people, devastated the communities concerned, and set back the development of health systems. Its impact was concentrated on three poor, fragile West African countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, but the tremors reverberated throughout the world, generating reactions of compassion and fear, spurring mobilization of vast human and financial resources, and inspiring many reflections on the lessons that should be learned by the many actors concerned. Among the actors were many with religious affiliations, who played distinctive roles at various points and across different sectors.

This case study highlights the complex institutional roles of religious actors and positive—and less positive—aspects of their involvement, and, notably, how poorly prepared international organizations proved in engaging them in a systematic fashion.

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