The major challenges in controlling the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Guinea were contact tracing, referral of suspected cases, secure burial and mistrust in the context of a weak health system. Community involvement and uptake of key interventions were very low, contributing to the spread of the epidemic. A community engagement project, using community based organisations (CBOs) and community leaders, was implemented in four affected health districts in rural Guinea. This paper reports on the contribution of the CBOs and community leaders in controlling the EVD outbreak. Base-, mid- and end - line assessments were conducted using a mixed methods approach. In total, 422 CBOs members, 50 community leaders and 40 village birth attendants were engaged in social mobilisation, awareness raising, reaching 154,310 people and leading to the end of reluctance and mistrust. Thus, 95 suspected cases were referred to health facilities, contact tracing and secure burial increased from 88.0% to 96.6% and from 67% to 95.4%, respectively, and institutional deliveries increased from 637 to 806. Involvement of CBOs and community leaders against the EVD outbreak is an effective resource that should also be considered to better respond to possible large-scale epidemic threats in a fragile health system context.
Keywords: Ebola; Guinea; community engagement; community participation; social mobilisation.