One of this project’s aims is to investigate any repercussions of the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone with regards how sensitisation methods were unjustly skewed towards bushmeat as a major threat to public safety. This encourage mistrust and misunderstanding that contributed to the negative attitude towards health workers during the crisis.
The 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic was the worst outbreak of Ebola ever recorded and took more than 11,000 lives across West Africa, with the most deaths occurring in Sierra Leone.
Ebola is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transferred from animals, like chimpanzees, monkeys, bats, and antelope, to humans. Although there were no confirmed cases of animal to human transmission of Ebola in Sierra Leone, the risk presented by handling or consuming bushmeat was so widely spread, which created misunderstandings and an inappropriate shift in focus away from human-to-human transmission.
Though the likelihood of zoonotic transmission of the Ebola virus is low, there are still actions that can be taken to minimise any potential spillover. The Global Health Security Agenda stated that there are three main actions to minimize zoonotic disease spill over into human populations: reduce contact with bats, increase food security, and reduce unsafe handling of bush meat. The Pan Verus Project is currently focusing on environmental education, including healthy habits, with local communities, and is researching potential long-term and sustainable solutions to increase food security.