Beyond a Public Health Emergency: Potential Secondary Humanitarian Impacts of a Large-scale Ebola Outbreak
Created: 18/04/2016 +

Overview

This report documents the secondary humanitarian problems and impacts of largescale Ebola outbreak on the different humanitarian sectors, to provide a non-exhaustive plan to help future responders. A large scale Ebola outbreak, in this document, refers to an epidemic with an unprecedented scale, geographical spread and duration. 

At the beginning of the crisis, the international community perceived the outbreak as a purely public health emergency. The response was oriented towards the containment of the epidemic and treatment of the sick patients. The initial focus was on providing beds for patients and mobilising health practitioners. The livelihoods, education or protection needs of the affected communities, indirectly caused by the outbreak, were left unaddressed.

The secondary humanitarian problems and impacts of the epidemic were extensive, and threatened the lives and livelihoods of more than 22 million people in the three most affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. The disruption of public and private services created an “emergency within the emergency”. Humanitarian actors failed to activate their surge capacity, or set up emergency funding and coordination structures, as a result of this perception of the crisis. It took time for the humanitarian community to recognise the complexity of the crisis and respond to the secondary impacts on other sectors. One major lesson learned during this epidemic has been the need to broaden the scope of the humanitarian response during a large-scale Ebola outbreak.