And societal ties remain strong there is evidence

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and societal ties remain strong, there is evidence that the EVD is eroding age-long communal behaviours including reduced attendance at ceremonies, adjustment in burial rights, and declined care of family and community members. Feelings of distrust between communities, and between citizens and government are still strong. The health system had been weakened in terms of access to health services including non-Ebola- related services such as family planning, pre- and post-natal services, antiretroviral therapies and treatment of endemic diseases in the region – malaria and cholera. Although most Guineans are optimistic that they will return to normal life in six months to one year, many of them expressed a fear for the future of their family, community and for the whole country. The recovery and future preventive measures must take cognizance of people’s feelings and expectations. Effective management of the disease and recovery process will help build trust and confidence in the people and also boost expectations for the future. The UN agencies’ programmatic engagements in the affected countries are challenged. The spread of Ebola challenges the different UN agencies with extremely difficult trade-offs between the overriding need to stop the epidemic as soon as possible, the urgent need to prevent SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACT OF EBOLA VIRUS DISEASE IN WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES
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72 affected communities from sinking further into poverty, and the obligation to continue efforts towards achieving long-term development. The international community must act very swiftly to avoid a ‘double failure’ phenomenon – the perception of national stakeholders about how the donor community responds to the crisis. The United Nations still remains a respected partner in West Africa, but much more is needed in upholding the trust gained from the governments of these countries. The UN agencies must be able to rapidly adapt to new epidemic contexts. This includes improving the upward flow of information related to experiences in other countries, mobilizing partnerships around the containment and early recovery of governments, strengthening coordination among the UN agencies and helping governments to effectively coordinate the global support, among others. UN agencies must also foster information sharing, namely, by making recommendations that will be followed by all communities and by all NGOs in the field. More coordinated actions at the local, national and international levels are a prerequisite for containing the epidemic. Actions must be strengthened to improve communicating information to communities regarding the nature of the disease, and social and health-related ways to address it. It is important to consider any incentive that would encourage populations to take charge of their situation, in particular, by declaring and preventing the disease. This is needed to avoid ‘double failure’ phenomenon. Given that the international responses were slow in coming right from the
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  • Fall '19
  • West Africa

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