The role of traditional healers in health crises (Platform for Dialogue and Peace)

A car attempting to drive through a road flooded with brown water with green trees and bushes on either side of the road


The research will primarily seek to understand the extent to which ordinary local people utilize and rely on traditional healers, and will explore the healers’ understanding of Ebola.

After nearly 14 years of a devastating civil war that destroyed much of Liberia’s infrastructure between 1990 and 2003, the West African nation of 4.1 million people has gradually been recovering from the effects of the conflict. That was until the recent Ebola outbreak which severely challenged the health sector, revealing the high degree of fragility that still persists in the health care system.

In an effort to examine some of the complex challenges the health system has faced in addressing Ebola, P4DP – a Liberian research NGO – has launched a study to explore and understand the role that traditional healers, herbalists, spiritualists, country doctors and zoes’ play in health matters and, in particular, the transmission and mitigation of the Ebola Virus Disease. Funded by the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme, the study also aims to find out how this group of informal health providers can help strengthen the national health services.

During July 2015, P4DP conducted an initial workshop to train eighteen local facilitators on how they can assist in the identification and selection of community-based key informants who understand the various roles traditional healers play and their contributions to the fight against the deadly Ebola Virus. The selected local facilitators are trusted and respected members of the communities where the research will be conducted, and are familiar with the leadership, local structures and culture of their respective communities.

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Åland Islands
American Samoa

Knowledge Area

Community Health

Approaches used in this project