A large international response was needed to bring the 2014/15 West African Ebola virus disease outbreak under control. This study sought to learn lessons from this epidemic to strengthen the response to future outbreaks of international significance by identifying priorities for future epidemiology training and response. Epidemiologists who were deployed to West Africa were recruited through a snowball sampling method and surveyed using an online anonymous questionnaire. Associations between demographics, training, qualifications, and role while in-country were explored alongside respondents' experience during deployment. Of 128 responses, 105 met the inclusion criteria. Respondents originated from 25 countries worldwide, for many (62%), this was their first deployment abroad. The most common tasks carried out while deployed were surveillance, training, contact tracing, and cluster investigation. Epidemiologists would value more detailed predeployment briefings including organizational aspects of the response. Gaps in technical skills reported were mostly about geographical information systems; however, epidemiologists identified the need for those deployed in future to have greater knowledge about roles and responsibilities of organizations involved in the response, better cultural awareness, and leadership and management skills. Respondents felt that the public health community must improve the timeliness of the response in future outbreaks and strengthen collaboration and coordination between organizations.
Keywords: Ebola virus; West Africa; FETP; epidemiologist; international deployment; outbreak response.
© 2019 Atlantis Press International B.V.