Photo: Dimitri Karastelev

Social and cultural dimensions of the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa: Ontological friction and the ills of ‘western witchcraft’

Research project
Active research
Project size
4 200 000
Project owner
Syna Ouattara, Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI)

Short description

As in previous Ebola outbreaks in Central and East Africa, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa (2013-2016) was locally associated with sorcery. Accusations of sorcery was this time also directed towards the biomedical response agencies – combatting the epidemic. Ebola response teams were blamed in several villages for deliberately spreading the disease, resulting in a great strong resistance on the part of the afflicted communities to the public health interventions. This community resistance contributed to the speed and persistence of the epidemic. Distrust of health workers – sometimes resulting in aggressive attacks on those trying to help – presented a challenge to the Ebola eradication initiative. The project seeks to document and analyze the driving forces behind the community resistance to the Ebola response teams in Guinea.