Ebola Outbreak

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Introduction

The Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa remains the largest in history, an aspect that sparked international and public health response. The severe epidemic outbreak of Ebola virus in countries such as Liberia begun in 2014, an aspect that saw the World Health Organization declare the nation of Liberia free from the diseases following a period of 42 days of safe burials of the patients who had succumbed to the disease. However, reports posit that another instance of Ebola rocked the region later on in September 2015, an aspect that saw Liberia record close to 10,672 cases of the disease and, a record of over 4,808 deaths thus representing 37.

0% and 42.6% respectively. It is, in this case, essential to note that since the first reported case of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in humans around 1976, the infections that are acquired within the community are often considered as a cause of mortality and morbidity among the healthcare workers (CDC, 2018). In this regard, it is essential to note that the recent EVD outbreaks that hit West Africa remain unprecedented in several ways, an aspect that has had a devastating effect on the region’s fragile healthcare workforce.

Literature Review

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) remains one of the deadly and rear diseases that affect nonhuman primates and human beings. According to the CDC (2018), the viruses that cause this disease are mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa. In this regard, it is alleged that people are bound to contract EVD when they come into direct contact with sick or dead people who were infected with the Ebola virus as well as with animals that are infected with the virus such as nonhuman primates and bats.

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Reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) reveal that there are not any approved treatment methods or vaccines that may be used in the management of EVD. However, research studies on EVB are currently focusing on establishing the natural hosts of the virus to develop vaccines that may be used in protecting the at-risk populace as well as therapies that may improve the treatment and management of the disease.

Ebola virus disease spreads to different people through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an individual who ails or who had died from the disease. This mainly occurs when individuals come into close contact with the body fluids of the infected people or rather the objects that are used by them, thus allowing the virus to get access to the broken skin through the mucous membranes, the nose, the eyes, or through the mouth (CDC, 2018). The virus can equally spread to people mainly through having direct contact with bodily fluids, blood, and tissues of an infected primate or fruit bats. The virus can further spread when the infected people engage in sexual debuts, with this revealing that the Ebola survivors are likely to face various side effects following their recovery that includes visibility problems, tiredness, muscle aches, and stomach pains.

There is no approved vaccine or treatment for EVD. Research on EVD focuses on finding the virus’ natural host, developing vaccines to protect at-risk populations, and discovering therapies to improve treatment of the disease. The outbreak of Ebola in Liberia have significantly grown in regards to the cause counts, an aspect that is by far perceived as worrisome. The reports that another instance of Ebola rocked the region later on in September 2015, an aspect that saw Liberia record close to 10,672 cases of the disease and, a record of over 4,808 deaths thus representing 37.0% and 42.6% respectively (Frieden & Damon, 2015). Three countries in West Africa that include Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia are reported to be among the nations with the most extensive spread of disease transmission. On the other hand, Mali and Nigeria report a small number of cases while the nation of Senegal remains one of the prone regions to this disease.

Unlike the previous outbreaks which were primarily restricted to some of the remote regions, the cases of EVD in West Africa have turned out to be more complex given the fact that this disease spreads geographically, thus affecting the small rural as well as the larger urban centers within the region. According to Frieden & Damon (2015), the multi-country outbreaks that mainly occur concurrently have often made this pandemic unique. This is attributed to the higher transmission rates as well as the limited capacities that enable its management upon its onset. In January 2015, reports point that the fatality rates of EVD in Guinea arose from 35.3 percent to 64.1 percent, with its spread turning as complicated given the fact that health workers often become affected as they care for patients. It is equally established that the loose migratory procedures and patterns in this region due to ignorance, fear, and the engagement in risky cultural activities and practices make the efforts to contain the disease a challenge. Besides the spreading of the disease in West African nations such as Mali, Senegal, and Nigeria, EVD remains an aspect that has been detected in other different regions such as Germany, Spain, Italy, and the United States of America, an issue that occurred through transmissions that were spread by tourists who traveled to these nations from the West African countries.

The Health Belief Model (HBM)

The Health Belief Model (HBM) as established in the views of University of Twente (2018), is considered as a psychological model that is used in explaining and predicting varied health behaviors, an aspect that is mainly achieved through the focus on individual’s beliefs and attitudes towards a health concern. This model was primarily designed with the intention of responding to the failures that were experienced in the handling of tuberculosis (TB) through the health screening program. Since then, the model has been assimilated and adapted to help in exploring different long as well as short-term health behaviors that include the transmission of EVD, HIV/AIDS as well as the engagement in risky sexual behaviors (University of Twente, 2018). Given this, it is essential to note that the inclusion of the Health Belief Model in the management and treatment of EVD may broadly play a significant role in enlightening and educating the populations at risk to take proper precaution when handling dead or infected people in the community. Thus, establishing the need for the promotion of preventive health behaviors that mainly include the development of health-risks such as sexual engagements with the affected individuals as well as cultural practices that may increase the chances of infection. To achieve this, there is a need to ensure that communication is encapsulated in a manner that promotes behavior change, a fundamental aspect that may increase positive outcomes in some of the regions that are prone to this disease.

Strategies in the Management of EVD

Different stakeholders have often made several attempts in the health, public, and the private sectors with the intent of establishing proper mechanisms that may be used in addressing EVD in West Africa (Mark, 2014). However, most of these measures have been directed to the change in health policies precisely, while little or no focus has been directed towards educating the community on the need to change their behaviors in the handling of bodies and the engagement with dead bodies. Given this, the strategies that may be formulated to foster the changes that may need to be measured in the management of EVD may include:

Health Communication

It is essential to establish that communication plays a vital role in developing proper tactics that may be used to educate and equip the vulnerable populations on the practical measures that may help in addressing EVD. The fight against EVD requires an active, well-educated, and equipped community, efforts that need an effective health communication approach. Contrarily, a weak health communication system lacks the proper equipment’s as well as communication channels that may be used in responding to the needs of the community and to tool them with the skills required to champion the spread of this contagious disease. According to Mark (2014), one of the fundamental measures that may be used on understanding the interactions with the community is through the use of health communication. Health communication as established by CDC includes the study as well as the use of communication strategies and methods to influence and inform the communities and individual actions towards an enhanced state of health.

Community Engagement

The social mobilization, as well as the engagement of the community, would, in this case, play an enormous and crucial role in addressing the outbreaks and the spread of Ebola in West Africa. During the outbreak of this disease in West Africa, the lack of proper engagement and communication contributed significantly to its spread. However, the inclusion of the community in the management of this disease increases and raises their awareness towards the action plans established (Mark, 2014). To enhance engagement, the formation of effective health communication strategies will, in this case, play a vital role in informing the vulnerable communities and groups, motivating the groups, challenging their behaviors, empowering them, increasing their knowledge as well as understanding on the health issues and allowing the exchange of information in addressing EVD.

Evaluation Strategy to Measures the Strategies

A crucial aspect in establishing the outcomes of a health strategy lies in the inclusion of evaluation measures. In evaluating these strategies, there will be a need to clarify and ensure that communication is integrated within the community, efforts that will require the engagement of stakeholders, the assessment of resources, the development of evaluative questions, the acquisition and the analysis of data, and the use of the results (Public Health Ontario, 2017). The success of these strategies will, in this case, be evaluated through the communication channels established and the impact of these strategies in reducing the instances of EVD transmission in the community.

The Roles of Social Determinants in Promoting Health

The social determinants of health as established in the views of Jakuboski (2014) are considered as some of the conditions that determine the ages, growth, birth, lives, and works of a given health population. Social determinants of health, on the other hand, include other factors such as education, the socioeconomic status, physical environment, social support networks, and the physical environment. In other words, the social determinants of health help in understanding the contributors and the factors that may fuel a disease, hence playing a vital role in developing initiatives that may be used in addressing the health challenges. Social determinants of health, in this case, may help in understanding a population to determine interventions and measures that may be used in improving the health of a community.

Conclusion

As established in this paper, the Ebola outbreak that hit West Africa remains the largest in history, an aspect that sparked international and public health response. The severe epidemic outbreak of Ebola virus in countries such as Liberia begun in 2014, an aspect that saw the World Health Organization declare the nation of Liberia free from the diseases following a period of 42 days of safe burials of the patients who had succumbed to the disease. In addressing this issue, there is a need to establish proper communication. Communication plays a vital role in determining appropriate tactics that may be used to educate and equip the vulnerable populations on the effective measures that may help in addressing the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

References

  1. CDC. (2018, May 15). Ebola (Ebola Virus Disease). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/index.html
  2. Frieden, T. R., & Damon, I. K. (2015). Ebola in West Africa—CDC’s Role in Epidemic Detection, Control, and Prevention. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 21(11), 1897-1905. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2111.150949.
  3. Jakuboski, S. (2014, October 16). What You Need to Know about the EBOLA OUTBREAK in West Africa. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/scitable/blog/green-science/what_you_need_to_know_222245
  4. Mark, M. (2014, July 28). West African countries announce new measures to stop Ebola spread. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jul/28/west-africa-measures-stop-ebola-spread
  5. Public Health Ontario. (2017, May 10). Evaluating Health Promotion Programs: Resources. Retrieved from https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/BrowseByTopic/HealthPromotion/Pages/Evaluation-Workbook-and-Audio-Presentations.aspx
  6. University of Twente. (2018, December 11). Health Communication | Health Belief Model. Retrieved from https://www.utwente.nl/en/bms/communication-theories/sorted-by-cluster/Health-Communication/Health-Belief-Model/

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Ebola Outbreak. (2022, May 14). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/ebola-outbreak/

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