Researchers have ascertained the extent to which disease epidemics adversely impact on the livelihoods of individuals, households and communities in affected areas. The results were recently published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Tsegaye Gatiso of the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv), Germany, and his team collected data from 623 households across Liberia during the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in 2015. Respondents were asked about household income, source of income, crop production, and household assets including land. The survey found that the annual income of sample households did not differ between communities that had been affected by EVD and those unaffected.
However, households in all areas reported a decrease in average income compared to the previous year, which the researchers believe suggests that the outbreak may have indirectly affected communities in areas where the virus was not present. “Our results highlight that epidemics, such as the recent EVD outbreak, may have longlasting negative effects on the livelihoods of a society and their effect may extend beyond the communities directly affected by the epidemics,” the researchers said.