Cultural contexts of Ebola in northern Uganda

Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Oct;9(10):1242-8. doi: 10.3201/eid0910.020493.


Technical guidelines for the control of Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) indicate that understanding local views and responses to an outbreak is essential. However, few studies with such information exist. Thus, we used qualitative and quantitative methods to determine how local residents of Gulu, Uganda, viewed and responded to the 2000–2001 outbreak of EHF. Results indicated that Acholi people used at least three explanatory models to explain and respond to the outbreak; indigenous epidemic control measures were often implemented and consistent with those being promoted by healthcare workers; and some cultural practices amplified the outbreak (e.g., burial practices). However, most persons were willing to modify and work with national and international healthcare workers.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cultural Characteristics
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Female
  • Funeral Rites
  • Health Education
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / epidemiology*
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / prevention & control
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola / transmission
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicine, African Traditional
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda / epidemiology