Ebola: the power of behaviour change

Behaviour change in local communities appears to be playing a key role in the reduction of Ebola cases inÿLiberia, according to School experts.

Writing in Nature, Dr Sebastian Funk, Lecturer in Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases, and Dr Gwen Knight, Research Fellow in Infectious Disease Modelling, said: "Without including social, cultural and behavioural responses to the Ebola epidemic, models may overestimate outbreak size.

"Behavioural response, triggered by an epidemic, can slow down or even stop virus transmission. Indeed, altered cultural perception in response to the disease enabled people's behaviour to change in ways that helped to contain outbreaks in the past.

"Reports from Foya in Liberia indicate that the outbreak there is now in decline. A local information campaign to change funeral practices and other behaviours seems to have paid off. More aid and more personnel are urgently needed, but so is the involvement of local communities and the provision of information that can help to contain this epidemic."

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