Science as Saviour? A Lot of People Saw Experts as Enemies

Early in the West African Ebola outbreak in 2014, an angry mob attacked a treatment centre in Guinea run by Medicins Sans Frontieres. MSF was as startled as everyone else: why would people attack the very doctors who were trying to save them?

That wasn’t the only incident. All over the Ebola region — Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — people refused to co-operate with doctors and nurses. People with Ebola symptoms were hidden by their families; if they did go to treatment centres, they sometimes escaped. Countless people said Ebola was a hoax, or a Western plot to kill Africans.

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