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Improving the response to Ebola crises with improved access to routine health information.

The 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone claimed thousands of lives and cost these countries at least $2 billion in lost GDP. The role of using existing data and information systems for such outbreaks is important to understand in order to strengthen health systems and improve resilience during outbreaks and in other humanitarian settings.
This project will develop understanding of how routine health information on key health system measures can inform the ongoing and long-term response to the current Ebola crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to develop tools that enable the use of this data in future public health crises.

The project methods will use existing data to assess the state of health system responses to outbreaks like Ebola before, during, and after the outbreak in affected and non-affected areas. The second phase will primarily use qualitative methods to explore how the routine health information system was used by stakeholders, including frontline health workers, during the outbreak. The research findings will inform both the ongoing response, including long-term recovery operations, and generate generalized lessons that will be valuable for future epidemics or other public health emergencies in the DRC and in other low and middle-income countries.

The project team consists of a partnership of a Canadian and Congolese research team supported by additional international researchers and practitioners with strong multidisciplinary expertise in health systems, epidemiology, data science, anthropology, and public health, as well as substantial experience with Ebola developed during the 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa.

This project is funded by the Rapid Research Fund for Ebola Virus Disease Outbreaks, a CA$1.5 million initiative that was mobilized and co-funded by IDRC, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The Fund supports four collaborative projects jointly led by Canadian and African researchers.

Project ID
Project Status
End Date
24 months
IDRC Officer
Qamar Mahmood
Total Funding
CA$ 359,151.00
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Global Health
Global Health
Institution Country
Project Leader
Karen Grépin
Wilfrid Laurier University
Institution Country
Project Leader
Serge Mayaka
Ecole De Santé Publique De Kinshasa