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The Politics of FearMédecins sans Frontières and the West African Ebola Epidemic$
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Michiel Hofman and Sokhieng Au

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190624477

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190624477.001.0001

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Fear and Containment

Fear and Containment

Contact Follow-up Perceptions and Social Effects in Senegal and Guinea

(p.209) 9 Fear and Containment
The Politics of Fear

Alice Desclaux

Moustapha Diop

Stéphane Doyon

Oxford University Press

In the West African Ebola outbreak, control of transmission chains through contact tracing was implemented in different ways. Did contacts experience fear of quarantine and its social consequences, or did they feel protected? In this chapter, four case studies from Senegal and Guinea show the impact of social context in building diverse tracing methods and shaping perceptions by contacts. Fear was enhanced or reduced, often as a result of minor social gestures and side support measures that would be considered negligible from a global perspective but were meaningful at a local level. Fear was sometimes used in the Ebola public health response to reinforce compliance, but this sometimes resulted in disruption in social bonds with contacts. Withdrawing coercion, adapting social distancing methods to local situations, strengthening communication with contacts, and providing the community with accurate information and basic services will help build the trust needed to make contact tracing acceptable.

Keywords:   Ebola, West Africa, contact tracing, Guinea, Senegal, quarantine, public health, compliance

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