Higher local Ebola incidence causes lower child vaccination rates

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Ebola is a highly infectious and often fatal zoonotic disease endemic to West and Central Africa. Local outbreaks of the disease are common, but the largest recorded Ebola epidemic originated in Guinea in December 2013, spreading to Liberia, and Sierra Leone in the following year and lasting until April 2016. The epidemic presented a serious challenge to local healthcare systems and foreign aid agencies: it degraded services, caused the loss of healthcare professionals, disrupted the economy, and reduced trust in modern healthcare. This study aims to estimate the extent to which variation in one long-term measure of the quality of local healthcare (the child vaccination rate) is a consequence of local variation in the intensity of the epidemic. Applying a “difference-in-differences” model to household survey data from before and after the epidemic, we show that in 2018–2019, overall rates of vaccination for BCG, DPT, measles, and polio are lower in Guinean and Sierra Leonean districts that had a relatively high incidence of Ebola; statistical analysis indicates that this is a causal effect. The effects of the epidemic on access to healthcare have been local effects, at least in part.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1382
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2024


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