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African Healthcare Leadership Lessons From 2014 to 2016 Ebola Crisis*

Pierre Balamou (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK)
Paul R. Sachs (ReidSachs LLC, USA)

African Leadership: Powerful Paradigms for the 21st Century

ISBN: 978-1-80117-046-8, eISBN: 978-1-80117-045-1

Publication date: 14 March 2023


The devastating 2014 Ebola outbreak caused human and economic loss, but it also resulted in remarkable improvement in healthcare leadership. The impact is most evident in the affected West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. In this chapter, the Ebola experience is used as a framework to explore the essential elements of healthcare leadership, with particular attention to healthcare crises in under-resourced communities. Overall, healthcare leadership presents unique challenges. In common with leaders of other industries, healthcare leaders must inspire others, create a sense of purpose, make difficult decisions and collaborate with a range of people. But, because their focus is on complex systems that aim to improve people's physical and mental well-being, expectations of healthcare leaders are especially high. Their work can be a matter of life or death. For the leader in an under-resourced area, the challenge and expectations are even higher, particularly in the face of new or emerging health threats. The key to effective healthcare leadership is systems thinking which involves looking at the entire system of care as an integrated whole, rather than discrete parts that operate in isolation. Healthcare leaders must understand that health means mobilizing multisectoral knowledge and resources and applying innovative and multiactor approaches to prevent, detect and address health problems. Since the 2014 Ebola crisis, healthcare leaders are increasingly using a systems approach by looking at the culture of health systems, the impact of diseases locally and globally, and the applicability of health interventions in different environments. In the post-Ebola era, steps to strengthen the healthcare system are described which includes the roles of healthcare leaders. These steps include deployment of field epidemiologists and community health agents, community education and fuller use of the One Health Platform, which allows actors from different sectors (human health, animal health and environmental health) to collaborate. Finally, suggestions for healthcare leadership training are offered.



Balamou, P. and Sachs, P.R. (2023), "African Healthcare Leadership Lessons From 2014 to 2016 Ebola Crisis*", Elkington, R., Ngunjiri, F.W., Burgess, G.J., Majola, X., Schwella, E. and de Klerk, N. (Ed.) African Leadership: Powerful Paradigms for the 21st Century, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 75-92.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023 Pierre Balamou and Paul R. Sachs