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The Role of Family and Culture in Extreme Adversity: Psychosocial Response to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Epidemic in Guinea, West Africa

  • Neda Faregh
  • Alexis Tounkara
  • Kemo Soumaoro
Chapter

Abstract

The need for psychiatric and psychological treatment of people affected by the 2014–2016 West African Ebola epidemic led to the development of international and nongovernmental programs aiming to prevent and treat the effects of the crisis on mental health. In this chapter, we examine the development, adaptation, and the practice of interventions aimed at addressing the mental health burden of impacted individuals and families in a humanitarian crisis context. The aim of this chapter is to review the “practice of aid” in the form of psychosocial interventions for survivors of the Ebola epidemic in Guinea from the pragmatic as well as the broader social, political, and historical contexts. The chapter emphasizes the role of culture and the need for adaptation of standards of care, situating the work against a backdrop of fear and uncertainty where the nascent community of Ebola survivors struggles to formulate itself, continuously evolving and adapting to accommodate the gaps formed in the fabric of family and society from loss by death or anathema. Viewing psychosocial interventions from this perspective reveals that in such contexts, the work of the humanitarian actor facing the constant threat of the crisis milieu while providing assistance to families suffering from the impact of the epidemic is far from technically neutral. All stakeholders are operating in reciprocal spheres of influence as they, individually and collectively, undertake the process of meaning-making along a continuum of shared values and the moral impetus, at home and abroad, that drive the humanitarian response to the needs and demands of those affected by extreme adversities, such as the 2014–2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa.

Keywords

Ebola epidemic Culture Cultural adaptation 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neda Faregh
    • 1
  • Alexis Tounkara
    • 2
  • Kemo Soumaoro
    • 3
  1. 1.Carleton UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Independent ConsultantConakryGuinea
  3. 3.Universite Gamal Abdel Nasser de ConakryConakryGuinea

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