Ebola responders in Congo confront fake news and social media chatter

‘There is no such thing as Ebola’

Vincent Tremeau/World Bank

Deadly untruths

A study published in The Lancet in March found that people had been bombarded by misinformation. Sampling some 961 adults between 1 September and 16 September last year in the towns of Beni and Butembo, some 86 percent, said they’d heard Ebola didn’t exist. About one in four, or 230 people, said they didn’t believe it existed. Similarly, some 86 percent had heard the disease was being used to destablise the area, while more than one in three believed that to be true.

A politicised disease

The World Health Organisation confirmed the Ebola outbreak in August, months before Congo was set to head to the polls for landmark elections.

The scene outside the hospital in Beni on 17 January 2019. Vincent Tremeau/World Bank

Lessons learned?

The Alliance for International Medical Action, or ALIMA, has tried to learn from its work during the 2013–2016 outbreak in West Africa, which killed more than 11,000 people.

Health workers put their gloves on before checking patients at the Beni hospital. Vincent Tremeau/World Bank

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