West African health workers are the true Ebola experts. They should document their knowledge

Ebola scares everyone.[1] But one thing we know for sure is this: the next Ebola outbreak is not going to be in the USA, or Switzerland, or the UK. It will be in DR Congo, South Sudan, or Gabon. What the doctors, nurses and health managers in those places – the front line defence against this terrifying disease – need to know is not the genetic makeup of the organism or the likelihood of vaccines they will never afford. They need to know what to do when funerals spread infections. When witchcraft is being blamed by communities. When patients refuse to stay in hospitals. When the disease is spreading in the kind of marketplaces and city conditions that only African countries share. And what to do when foreigners are too scared to come and help.

The doctors, nurses and health service managers in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and others will – when this awful crisis is finally over – have much valuable knowledge that others can, and desperately need to, learn from. We must all support them to document and publish it so that when this disease rears its head again, in the deep dark rainforests and crowded bustling cities of Africa, we, in this continent, are prepared with the real practical preparatory information that can help stop the disease in its tracks – and comfort the rest of the world.

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