We cannot tackle disease threats without a cultural perspective!


With some forty years of fieldwork experience in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia, Professor Paul Richards, an anthropologist from University College London and Wageningen University in the Netherlands, helps us understand the development of the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and how to draw together and understand local and international responses.

Professor Paul Richard is confirmed keynote speaker at Uppsala Health Summit in October.

Last year, he published a book Ebola: How A People’s Science Helped End an Epidemic, in which he analyses his fieldwork on community reactions to the ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. The book has gained wide acclamation, also outside academic circles, maybe because the story is told by someone well acquainted with the region, and reflects a direct interaction with communities affected by the disease.

We are very happy to confirm that Paul Richards will participate as one of the keynote speakers at the upcoming Uppsala Health Summit, 10 - 11 October.

He will also share and discuss his experiences in the workshop Empowered and Resilient Communities – A Need for New Perspectives.

In the aftermath of the Ebola crisis, many analyses have pointed out how critical local engagement is for a successful response. But how to do it? Paul Richards’s book analyses local suggestions for a better epidemic response.  When brought in to the same room as more ‘orthodox’ science these community voices help provide a basis for re-thinking infection control. Richards adds a much-needed cultural perspective to the story of this human disaster, and discusses how we might build resilient strategies for prevention, detection and response to emergent infectious disease threats more generally.

Professor Richards is currently active in Sierra Leone working with colleagues form Njala University, and Wageningen University on a Post Ebola initiative to document the lessons of the epidemic and work with communities to establish a One Health approach to a range of zoonotic disease threats.