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Maternal and Reproductive Rights: Ebola and the Law in Liberia

  • Veronica Fynn BrueyEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Global Maternal and Child Health book series (GMCH)

Abstract

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic founded by freed Black slaves and the American Colonisation Society, was stunted by a civil war that killed 250,000 people and displaced another 850,000 between 1989 and 2003. In 2005, Liberia made headlines for being the first African country to democratically elect a female president. However, the Ebola virus descended upon Liberia on 30 March, 2014. Almost 2 years after, Liberia was the outbreak’s hardest hit country with 10,666 cases and 4806 deaths. The Global Fund for Women suggests 75% of those who died from Ebola were women, with past studies revealing that a mortality rate among pregnant women could be as high as 93.3%. Of the 184 health workers who died, nurses and nursing aids (mostly females) accounted for the highest proportion (35%) of the 810 Ebola health worker cases reported by mid-August 2014. During the Ebola outbreak, both the World Health Organisation and the government of Liberia declared a “public health emergency,” providing an opportunity to canvass various fields of law responsive to the threat of the disease and strengthen public health security. The World Health Organisation declared Liberia Ebola-free for the fourth time on 14 January, 2016. Despite having a crippled health system, an outdated Public Health Act, extremely low numbers of health workers, and under-funded government institutions of health and social welfare, Liberia stands out as a success story in curbing the Ebola outbreak. This chapter examines the extent to which international, regional, and national law and policy impacted upon and contributed to reproductive and maternal health outcomes of girls and women during the Ebola crisis in Liberia.

Keywords

Maternal health Reproductive rights Ebola outbreak Liberia Public health Law Maternal rights Women’s rights Health care policy Child health Legal protection Public health laws Sexual violence 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seattle University School of LawSeattleUSA

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