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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 38-44

Framework for a psychosocial support structure for individuals during an Ebola virus disease outbreak: Lessons from Port Harcourt experience

1 Department of Mental Health/Neuropsychiatry, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port Harcourt, Nigeria
2 Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Program, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Ibitein Ngowari Okeafor
Nigeria Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme, 50 Haile Selassie Street, Asokoro, Abuja, FCT
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/phmj.phmj_25_19

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Background: The Ebola virus epidemic was reported in Lagos, Nigeria, in July 2014; this further spread to Nigeria's Oil city of Port Harcourt in September 2014. Ebola virus disease (EVD) is highly infectious with high mortality rates reported. During such an outbreak, there is a tendency to neglect the psychosocial implications of this outbreak. This research sought to propose a psychosocial support framework during an EVD outbreak. Methods: This study was a qualitative study. It employed review of literature, individual- and group-interview sessions and one of the author's (CUO) experience and challenges as the lead of the psychosocial support group (PSG) during the 2014 EVD outbreak in Port Harcourt to develop a framework on psychosocial support for EVD. Data presentation involved tables, charts and GIS map. Results: There were a total of four cases of EVD and 526 contacts in the EVD outbreak in Port Harcourt. The framework comprises four components, namely PSG, set-up/location, protocol of care and services and mobility/other logistics. A multidisciplinary team comprising psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, counsellors, social workers and religious carers makes up the PSG. Set-up/location refers to the PSG operation office. The protocol of care and services are the modalities of care related to the categories of individuals requiring psychosocial support in EVD response. Conclusion: It is imperative that the psychosocial needs of individuals affected by EVD outbreak are sufficiently met. The psychosocial support framework provides a well-coordinated and structured approach in ensuring the holistic care of these individuals.

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