Bioethics Blogs

After the End of Ebola by Patricia Kingori

When the international teams began closing the Ebola Treatment Centres (ETCs) in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea this signalled the end of Ebola for many people. As researchers, NGO employees, and an array of personnel from across the globe said their good-byes to local staff, packed their bags, checked out of their hotel rooms and flew home, reflections on their experiences began filling the pages of academic journals and news outlets. Their discussion of Ebola in the past tense, as something that happened and that was, was underscored by international agencies declaring that affected countries were ‘Ebola free’, and Ebola was at an ‘end’.

There are however, exceptions in the narratives of Ebola as something that was. These are found in the accounts of those who lost loved ones and who continue to grieve, as well as those who form part of national infrastructures still struggling from disruption and massive loss of lives. These accounts, visible throughout the outbreak, are still being captured across a range of disciplines. In contrast, the accounts of local staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly at ETCs to help fight their country’s battle with Ebola are barely visible. Yet, it is precisely their stories that provide some of the most valuable insights into how the social, economic, and psychological effects of Ebola continue despite the political and humanitarian rhetoric pronouncing its end.

One of the most dominant images of the most recent Ebola outbreak has been of a figure, disguised by a white contamination suit, carrying a dead body. At the beginning of the outbreak bodies were committed to burial grounds but soon the number of deaths, coupled with the increased risk of contagion, necessitated a different approach, and the number of cremations began to rise.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.