Community-based Crisis Response: Evidence from Sierra Leone's Ebola Outbreak

Abstract

The recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the largest ever recorded. Post-mortems on the crisis suggest that effective community engagement helped slow transmission by encouraging people to come forward and be tested. We evaluate the impact of Community Care Centers — a new crisis response model designed to allay fears about western medical care and, thus, encourage early reporting, isolation, and treatment. We employ new panel data on reported Ebola cases and a difference-in-differences design, and find that Community Care Centers dramatically increased reporting, potentially reducing the spread of Ebola. Our results show how community-based efforts to increase confidence in the health system can be critical for crisis management.

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