Several Ebola survivors and health workers in Liberia’s fifteen counties have expressed displeasure about the issue of discrimination and stigmatization in their communities and country at large.
The survivors and Ebola health workers made the disclosure recently following Mercy Corps massive citizen-led community survey of people’s attitude and behavior relating to Ebola, which has so far received over 12,500 responses from across Liberia.
According to the survey, half of those surveyed said, that they would be uncomfortable visiting the house of an Ebola survivor while nearly two thirds said they are not comfortable eating from the same bowl as an Ebola worker.
The survey also proves that survivors and workers are also facing serious discrimination of which their families and frontline workers is having sometimes tragic Psychological and economic consequences, the NGO cautioned.
Discussing the issue of stigma and discrimination, the Communications Officer at Mercy Corps, Richlue O. Burphy said that effort to respond to stigma must actively engage community leaders and trusted public figures and create safe spaces to discuss the psychosocial impacts of Ebola.
“This research shows that all of us involved in the Ebola response need to really focus on challenging the way survivors, health care workers and others affected by Ebola are treated in the community,” Richlue said.
He further added that the survey, which was conducted using mobile phones donated by the Paul Allen Foundation via Net Hope, has been designed to compliment government-led research, providing a wide data set which can help monitor changes in people’s attitudes to Ebola and behaviors over time.
This data is being shared with county and national government offices to help inform planning and programs.
At the same time, Sophie Roden, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Manager at Mercy Corps disclosed that the ongoing monitoring will allow Ebola Communities Action Platform (ECAP) to tailor messages and programs, to ensure we can respond to gaps in knowledge and practices where this is needed most.