Ebola preparedness and traditional healers in South Sudan

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This review focuses on the evidence on Ebola preparedness in South Sudan through an anthropological lens, looking at informal and traditional health care systems. It presents the evidence on how these can be utilised for surveillance, behaviour change communication, and vaccinations in the case of an Ebola outbreak, including: establishing surveillance of these services and how healers would be able to provide alerts about possible cases in the event of an Ebola outbreak in South Sudan; evidence on how to provide information to traditional healers on how they can protect themselves from infection using simple methods, and to stop them becoming ‘superspreaders’ of the virus, and how to potentially vaccinate or provide information on vaccines to these healers alongside other health workers. The main linguistic groupings and ethnic groups that are predominant in areas considered to be at highest risk of Ebola outbreak in South Sudan are: Zande, Baka, Moru, Kakwa, Pojulu, Kuku, Bari, Acholi, Madi, Lotuko, Toposa and Didinga, so these are the focus of this report. These groups were provided by the team that commissioned this report.

K4D helpdesk reports provide summaries of current research, evidence and lessons learned. This report was commissioned by the UK Department for International Development.

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Catherine Grant

Catherine Grant is a social scientist, her work focuses on international health, education and nutrition issues. She has an interest in zoonotic diseases and was recently part of an international interdisciplinary consortium focusing on four zoonotic diseases, each affected in different ways by ecosystem changes and having different impacts on people’s health, wellbeing and livelihoods. As part of this work she conducted fieldwork and participatory research focusing on zoonotic diseases in Africa.

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