Maximizing a Health System Approach for an Improved Epidemic Response
Recommendations from IMA’s Experiences Containing Ebola Outbreaks in the DRC

IMA World Health’s work on the frontlines of strengthening fragile healthcare systems often brings
us in contact with new infectious disease outbreaks. Nowhere is this more pronounced, and deadly, than in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), IMA worked with the Ministry of Health (MOH), faith-based health facility partners and networks, civil society organizations (CSOs), and international health agencies to confront and control nascent Ebola outbreaks since 1995.

This paper explores IMA’s experiences – dating back to the 1995 Ebola outbreak – helping the government rapidly contain Ebola. Offering several key lessons learned and recommendations that can help the DRC better prepare to respond to future epidemics. Overall, a response that adequately prepares the health system and is inclusive of the faith-based sector can be effective in rapidly containing deadly outbreaks such as Ebola. An effective rapid response to Ebola maximizes all health systems resources in a coordinated way, including those offered from the faith-based sector. Also, successful containment and prevention interventions should always recognize the role of local leadership, including the role of faith-based institutions in raising awareness about Ebola to prevent it from spreading, especially in communities where houses of worship and religious leaders are trusted within local communities.

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