The Ebola outbreak currently affecting West Africa is the most serious trans-national medical emergency in modern times. It has the potential to become a global health crisis. Many of the countries affected already have weak health systems, which are now stretched to breaking point. The health authorities have a limited capacity to respond and in a context of widespread fear and misunderstanding about the nature of the disease and how to prevent it.

Alongside addressing human resourcing, health system and pharmaceutical challenges, social mobilisation is increasingly recognised as a key component of any strategy that aims to bring the Ebola outbreak under control. This helpdesk seeks to establish what lessons have been learnt from the current and previous Ebola outbreaks. It recommends good practice and makes suggestions based on the evidence for good practice and preparedness to reduce transmission and prevent further risk and exposure in affected countries.