Emergency Response Plan Essay Example

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Emergency Response Plan

Community Engagement and Mobilization Strategy for an Emergency Response Plan for an Outbreak of the Ebola Virus”


Ebola Virus is severe and acute viral illness, which normally result in a fatality of 90%. The first case, according to Kouadio et al. (2016), was reported in1976 in African Region: Sudan’s Nzara community and Democratic Republic of Congo’s Yambuku community. Afterwards, approximately 24 outbreaks have happened in the Africa until today, and the most recent outbreak was not only shocking but also devastating based on its impact and magnitude on the affected countries. As 0f 2015, Ebola outbreak in West Africa had resulted in 8,626 deaths (Kouadio, et al., 2016). To effectively respond to Ebola outbreak in the affected countries, a number of teams were deployed. Without a doubt, health promotion could make a positive contribution since it demonstrates how people can be empowered to take more control over their health as well as lives. The objective of this piece is to prepare a “community engagement as well as mobilization strategy for an emergency response plan for an outbreak of the Ebola virus.”


Community Engagement

Community engagement, according to Cyril, Smith, Possamai-Inesedy, and Renzaho (2015), is a valuable tool that offers a “voice to the voiceless;” therefore, it plays a crucial role in managing health inequalities. Since its advent, Ebola has mainly been affecting the African Region, where many people are disadvantaged and normally experience health inequalities. The majority of Ebola victims bore the disproportionate burden of the disease due to cultural, social and structural, barriers. The majority of Ebola victims were challenged by services that were culturally inappropriate, geographic access to health care, poor health literacy, financial barriers, as well as language barriers. In consequence, their ability to utilise health services was limited. As pointed out by O’Mara-Eves et al. (2015), community engagement involves different approaches to maximize the participation of local communities in activities as well as initiatives that seek to enhance their well-being and health and reduce health-related inequalities. Community engagement can help reduce health inequalities and improve health outcomes. Community engagement and social mobilization can help change people’s behaviour to control and prevent the Ebola outbreak. As mentioned by Gillespie et al. (2016), community engagement as well as social mobilization should be integrated as a ‘cluster system’ to show the key focus area for the response. Social mobilization and community engagement key function is coordinating efforts as well as designing a strategy to concentrate on key behaviours. Gillespie et al. (2016) posit that the trusted members of the local community should be invested in as mobilizers and the broader community systems should be strengthened to allow for lasting resilience.

Community engagement platforms like religious leaders’ network should be used because it plays a crucial role in gaining trusts and entry in communities. The emergency agencies should create strategic partnerships in order to realise both short-term and long-standing goals. This should start with the members of the community so as to create resources such as skills and strategies needed to make the community understand the health issue and to control the Ebola outbreak. As pointed out by WHO (2015), community engagement helps build as well as maintain trust amongst the frontline workers and local communities. Therefore, while responding to an Ebola outbreak, the communities should be informed about the appropriate prevention and control measures that have been selected, prioritised adopted. The emergency response agency should engage anthropologists to collaborate with religious as well as community leaders to manage stigma and fear of Ebola, to adopt cultural and religious practices, to negotiate alternatives and to use dialogue to encourage communities to look for treatment. Engaging with the village chiefs and religious leaders can help the emergency agencies to organize patrols of the villages’ boundaries; thus, recording people’s movements and keeping outsiders away (Laverack & Manoncourt, 2015).


Consultation is very crucial for emergency response actions; therefore, emergency agencies should bring the key stakeholders and partners together to talk about the context of Ebola outbreak and to prioritize strategies that would allow for maximisation of emergency responders’ contributions to improving public health outcomes. As pointed out by Laverack and Manoncourt (2015), consultation can be achieved by bringing different partners together at the national level to establish a social mobilization and community engagement pillar in the affected countries. UNESCO (2014) posits that stakeholders should have proper coordination systems that will help facilitate effective response as well as reduce gaps, delays, and duplication. Consultation is crucial because it eliminates resistance from communities and brings forth improved health outcomes. Some of the partners that should be consulted before taking action include Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Institute Pasteur, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), governments and academic institutions.


Participation, according to Rifkin (2014) plays a crucial role in the broader milieu of the social determinants significance towards health as a right to all humans. When the members of the communities are allowed to participate in the processes of emergency planning, they are inclined to support the Ebola interventions and treatment since they were involved in the decisions making processes. Besides that, participation will enable people to offer resources (money and time) to contribute to their community’s health improvements. Rifkin (2014) posits that people are inclined to change risky health behaviours when allowed to participate in decisions regarding the change. As pointed out by UNESCO (2014), Ebola needs strategic actions which can only be achieved through the proactive participation of the community members. Considering that proactive participation will allow for the creation of enabling conditions, whereby the community members to act as social actors and responsible citizens. The media should also be involved in the decision making since they play a pivotal role curtailing the Ebola outbreak impact and in shaping public opinion.


The community ownership and participation notion are fundamental to community-based models for health promotion, which are deemed crucial for spawning community capacity and support for engaging in Ebola prevention activities.
The health status and health behaviour can be influenced by organizations, which can help promote healthy behaviours in countries affected by Ebola. The majority of community organization models function on the presumption that community coalitions and participation generate a synergy of action and sense of ownership. Community organisation plays a crucial role in promoting healthy behaviours in countries affected by Ebola because they work with communities and support people to effectively manage their health. These organisations normally understand the local need and have gained enormous trust from the communities; therefore, they can work holistically across various services. Furthermore, these organisations benefit from huge involvement by volunteers who help reduce costs low.

Capacity building

Community building, according to Cuthill and Fien (2005), is a process that intends to strengthen the organizations and individuals capacity to develop as well as sustain conditions which support all community life aspects. Through such processes, organizations and people are engaged as parts of the dynamic system in building capacity to function determinedly as a community. Capacity building can be achieved by establishing and supporting a network of international as well as local professionals with capability for development in the community, which includes both technical and management skills that could be rapidly deployed. As pointed out by Gillespie et al. (2016), capacity building can help rapid-response teams to respond immediately to stop the Ebola virus in a short period of time. Capacity building improves Ebola prevention wherever possible.

trust and balance in countries affected by Ebola virus (Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, 2017).can help createLocal partner engagement and interministerial coordinationAs pointed out by Cuthill and Fien (2005), the growing interdependence of private and public organisations, as well as the interweaving of global, national and local interests, has lessened the organisation capacity to act unilaterally. Therefore, a collaborative approach that involves a different range of perspectives, expertise and knowledge can be used to solve complex issues associated with Ebola virus. Looking for common ground as well as generating collaborative solutions could lead to improved outcomes for communities in the affected countries. Li et al. (2016) posit that social mobilization and community education can help promote public awareness as well as enhance the community members’ compliance with control and prevention measures in the affected countries.


Empowerment can be described as a way of attaining power or a process through which people who are relatively powerless work together to improve their health outcomes. In this case, the health practitioners should work together to bring forth the conditions needed to make empowerment possible. Through community programmes or initiatives, communities, groups, and individuals can progress towards broadly-based and more organized forms of social action. Empowerment can improve self-esteem and individual competence which, consequently, increase personal control perceptions that directly influence the process of improving the health outcomes (Laverack, 2006). Community empowerment can help address the economic, cultural, social, and political determinants which support health and enables agencies to build partnerships with other sectors while trying to find solutions.


In conclusion, this piece has provided a “community engagement as well as mobilization strategy for an emergency response plan for an outbreak of the Ebola virus.” As demonstrated in this piece, participation, community capacity building, and empowerment are part of the health promotion practice which acknowledges the bottom-up approach value. As a result, this could offer a guide to agencies in understanding the suitable way forward in case of a future Ebola outbreak.


Cuthill, M., & Fien, J. (2005). Capacity building: Facilitating citizen participation in local governance. Australian Journal of Public Administration, 64(4), 63-80.

Cyril, S., Smith, B. J., Possamai-Inesedy, A., & Renzaho, A. M. (2015). Exploring the role of community engagement in improving the health of disadvantaged populations: a systematic review. Retrieved from National Library of Medicine: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4685976/

Gillespie, A. M., Obregon, R., Asawi, R. E., Richey, C., Manoncourt, E., Joshi, K., . . . Quereshi, S. (2016 ). Social Mobilization and Community Engagement Central to the Ebola Response in West Africa: Lessons for Future Public Health Emergencies. Global Health: Science and Practice, 4(4), 626–646.

Health Communication Capacity Collaborative. (2017). Social Mobilization Lessons Learned: The Ebola Response in Liberia. Baltimore, Maryland: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.

Kouadio, K. I., Clement, P., Bolongei, J., Tamba, A., Gasasira, A. N., Warsame, A., . . . Nshimirimana, D. (2016, May 6). Epidemiological and Surveillance Response to Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Lofa County, Liberia (March-September, 2014); Lessons Learned. Retrieved from PLOS Currents Outbreaks: currents.plos.org/outbreaks/article/epidemiological-and-surveillance-response-to-ebola-virus-disease-outbreak-in-lofa-count-liberia-march-september-2014/

Laverack, G. (2006). Improving Health Outcomes through Community Empowerment: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Health, Population and Nutrition, 24(1), 113-120.

Laverack, G., & Manoncourt, E. (2015). Key experiences of community engagement and social mobilization in the Ebola response. Global Health Promotion, 23(1), 1-4.

Li, Z.-J., Tu, W.-X., Wang, X.-C., Sh, G.-Q., Yin, Z.-D., Su, H.-J., & Shen, T. (2016). A practical community-based response strategy to interrupt Ebola transmission in sierra Leone, 2014–2015. Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 5, 1-10.

O’Mara-Eves, A., Brunton, G., Oliver, S., Kavanagh, J., Jamal, F., & Thomas, J. (2015, February 12). The effectiveness of community engagement in public health interventions for disadvantaged groups: a meta-analysis. Retrieved from BMC Public Health : https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12889-015-1352-y

Rifkin, S. B. (2014 , September). Examining the links between community participation and health outcomes: a review of the literature. Retrieved from PubMed Central: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4202913/

UNESCO. (2014). UNESCO’s Response to Ebola. Paris: United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

WHO. (2015). WHO STRATEGIC RESPONSE PLAN West Africa Ebola Outbreak. Geneva: World Health Organization.