In this interview, Dr. Mosoka P. Fallah, who played a key role in the Montserrado Incident Management System, discusses the evolution of the Ebola response in Liberia. He explains the failure of the initial top-down approach in city districts like West Point, where distrust of the government led to violence and a largely ineffective attempt to contain the spread of Ebola. Fallah goes on to describe the process of developing a bottom-up approach, known as the community-based initiative, which engaged local leaders to find cases and build knowledge about the disease neighbor to neighbor. He also provides insight into how a lack of resources and coordination among various supporting NGOs and government teams led to a prolonged epidemic in Liberia.
At the time of this interview, Dr. Mosoka P. Fallah was the founding director of the newly established National Public Health Institute of Liberia. During Liberia’s 2014-15 Ebola outbreak, he served in many different capacities. He began as the head of the Ebola response team for the NGO Action Contre La Faim (Action Against Hunger, or ACF). Later, he became head of contact tracing, case investigation, and active surveillance for Montserrado County. He received his Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from the University of Kentucky and his master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in infectious disease and epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.