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The medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) was first on the scene when Ebola broke out in West Africa and has been at the centre of efforts to care for the people affected.
It has struggled to secure the resources needed to cope with the emergency, strongly criticising what it calls the “global coalition of inaction”. In this interview, SciDev.Net talks to Polly Markandya, head of communications at MSF’s UK office, about the global and local fears that helped shape this into an exceptional crisis and highlighted the role of effective communication.
Markandya explains how the MSF communications team was “fighting on every front”: working with the affected communities in West Africa to allay fears, but also spending a lot of time dealing with the “fear induced responses” of Western governments. She says MSF has learnt many painful lessons about how to effectively communicate in a crisis of this magnitude.