The Ebola Response Anthropology Platform (ERAP), launched in November 2014, has provided a ground-breaking online support resource for social scientists and outbreak control teams to develop a co-ordinated response to the Ebola outbreak. The initiative, launched by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with the Institute of Development Studies and the University of Exeter, draws together an international network of anthropologists with expertise in West Africa and medical anthropology.
Working closely with communities in the affected areas, the network advises agencies and healthcare workers on the best approaches to identifying and diagnosing Ebola cases, caring for the sick, and managing the dead - ensuring that these interventions are adapted to local circumstances.
Many of the interventions to counter the Ebola outbreak initially focused on improving public health measures such as increasing facilities and equipment, and fast-tracking vaccine and drug trials. However, without knowledge and understanding of local communities this crucial work can often fail. ERAP helps staff to communicate health messages effectively, make drug trials acceptable to the local population, support safer funeral practices and develop home nursing guidelines.