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In 2015, Elrha commissioned the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) to conduct an independent review of the R2HC emergency Ebola Call for Proposals, with the objective of assessing the value of conducting research during a serious health epidemic. The review team comprised of Joanna Raven from LSTM, Haja Wurie and Mohamed Samai from the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences Sierra Leone, and Suzanne Fustukian from Queen Margaret’s University Edinburgh.
Despite the growing severity of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa, which had begun in December 2013 in Guinea, a “public health emergency of international concern” was not declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO) until August 2014.
The outbreak led to considerable morbidity and mortality in a very short space of time, exacerbated by weak health systems with inadequate numbers of health personnel, surveillance systems, diagnostic facilities, isolation wards and protective equipment. The health systems of the three main countries affected – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – were slow to recognise and respond to the crisis before becoming overwhelmed. There was a lack of available evidence that could be used to inform the response to the Ebola outbreak.
This was partially due to the fact that previous epidemics had not escalated to the same extent, nor demonstrated the same severity in terms of numbers, so there were limited lessons to be learnt from the past. In addition, minimal research was being conducted at that time and, whilst discussions about research at the global level had begun, there was little activity within the affected countries. In response to the Ebola epidemic, R2HC launched an emergency call for short-term research in August 2014. The intention was to fund robust research designed to contribute to the effectiveness of the outbreak response and to draw lessons for dealing with future outbreaks of Ebola and other communicable diseases.

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