Participant Quotations Regarding Organizational Response to Rumors of Health Workers Spreading Ebola Virus Disease in Sierra Leone

Rumor identificationI remember hearing it even before I was in Sierra Leone. I remember reading news stories. —International staff, Sierra Leone
It was during the Monday morning meetings when I went to Kenema. So the SMAC team who was talking about this during the Monday morning meetings. —International staff, Sierra Leone
Working in surveillance, I just remember seeing that there were some communities that were reluctant to report and I started asking the community members when I would go out for a certain case investigations with a surveillance team and then ask the surveillance team why they weren't speaking, why they weren't reporting, and they would tell me it was 1 of those 2 reasons, [that health care workers spread EVD or chlorine is deadly]. —International staff, Sierra Leone
Element of truth in rumorI don't think that there's an impossibility that people who went into an Ebola Treatment Center and were negative didn't pick up anything while they were in the Ebola Treatment Center and then get sick because they were there. I do think as well that there is a truth to the fact that some health care workers were treating patients at home and not necessarily in full [infection prevention and control] procedures and because they were treating people at home then they themselves might have gotten sick and could have potentially then passed it on to other people if they were treating them as well … I think that it's not that there was no truth to the fact that health care workers can spread Ebola. I think that the rumor that health care workers were spreading Ebola to the extent that that was being feared was probably not true. If somebody was treating somebody and got sick and then continued to treat people while they were themselves sick, yes, they could absolutely have spread Ebola, but usually when people get sick, then they're too sick to continue being clinicians and not always, obviously, but most of the time I think that people are not necessarily able to provide medical care at that point. —International staff, Sierra Leone
Negative effects of rumorDuring the time of Ebola, people were afraid to go to the hospital, people were afraid to go to the health centers. And so in Sierra Leone health workers were victims. So health workers were kicked out of their places that they are living … Landlords gave notice to health workers ‘we want you no more, you are kicked out of your home Because if you are a health worker, you might have Ebola, and you might infect us.” —Local staff, Sierra Leone
Rumor management: organizational changeYou can't do an SBC campaign until you actually fix the [infection prevention and control] problem. So a big part of it is you've actually got to just make the [infection prevention and control] better at the level of the health facility and then you can start to bring people in and say let's go for a tour of this facility. Why don't you participate in an evaluation of the infection prevention and control of the facility, use the rumor phone call line to let us know if people are not wearing gloves or if they're reusing needles, you know, ask people to sort of be agents like have some kind of they have to be agents of making it better I think a lot of the time. It's about working with health care workers to understand that [infection prevention and control] is not an optional but it's also a way of keeping them safe from sickness. I think you've really got to attack it on both supply and demand side if you want to get some measure of trust back into health system or in a Health service. —International staff, Sierra Leone
I think we just got to make a better … response. Right? I think one way to beat those types of rumors … is to put up results that show that essentially protect people and doesn't exacerbate the issues that we're all talking about. So I feel like that's really the only way to do that, the only way to really truly build trust after trust has been broken through a number of different things where it's rumors that have truth but are damaging nonetheless would be to build trust through proving that we can do this right. Which is can we reduce health care worker infections and nosocomial infections? When persons that are believed to be sick interact with health care workers and response workers as well. —International staff, Sierra Leone
Rumor management: interpersonal communicationWe hire people from the communities educated about … Ebola, and they go out and talk to their people telling - giving them the right information about the virus, right information about how to … and so that you keep yourself safe. So we are doing the IEC: information, education, and communication, through them. Where we mobilize communities, we explain to them about tell them about the rumors that people are talking about because of communities first talk about the rumors, what they are hearing … we asked them about their information on the virus, on the outbreak, and they tell us what they know, where they had got the idea in from other people, and on what they are saying. We give them the right information, we give them posters, we give them flyers, we show them videos that we would use about the outbreak. And we would get most of the people convinced that the rumors that they were hearing were not…. So this was one of the way that we are tackling about rumors. —Local staff, Sierra Leone
Rumor management: mass mediaThey tried to hold up people who were survivors and people who were Ebola champions to show what their contribution had been in terms of fighting Ebola and the fact that basically that they were to be trusted and they highlighted a lot of the Ebola response workers and the health care workers in that, which was really cool. —International staff, Sierra Leone