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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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A Few Days in July

A Few Days in July

(p.51) Vignette 1 A Few Days in July
The Politics of Fear

Lindis Hurum

Oxford University Press

When several small disasters occurred in rapid succession during the larger unfolding disaster of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, the fight against Ebola seemed increasingly hopeless. This vignette recounts just such a moment. In late July 2014, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) staff had to decide whether to remain on the ground after Samaritan’s Purse, the only other international nongovernmental organization working with them in providing care for Ebola patients, withdrew from the country after a healthcare worker became infected. At the same moment, violence against healthcare workers in the Ebola response was rising, as was the number of dying and dead. Ultimately, the choice to stay in the face of an impending human catastrophe did not derive from organizational logic or medical planning, but was based on a spur-of-the-moment choice driven by a sense of solidarity and commitment.

Keywords:   Doctors Without Borders/Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), Ebola, Liberia, healthcare worker, Samaritan’s Purse, epidemic, nongovernmental organization

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