Ebola virus disease

The 2014 outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa caused the deaths of over 10,000 people. The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement played a fundamental part in the response, helping communities cope with the epidemic and taking on some of the most challenging aspects of dealing with the effects of the disease.

The 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa was the largest and most complex since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976. There were more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It spread across West African countries, from Guinea to Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Mali.

From the outset of the epidemic, communications and strong community engagement were vital to an effective response, due to the myths and distrust spreading among communities.

Interventions focused on working with communities in both affected and non-affected areas, to ensure they understood how to protect themselves from Ebola and how to prevent the virus from spreading. Red Cross teams went door to door and worked with community elders and religious leaders to educate families about how the virus is spread, what the symptoms are, and the importance of seeking early treatment. Messages focused on correcting myths and providing life-saving information.

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Mapping the crisis

World Health Organization figures suggest there were over 28,000 cases in the 2013-2016 Ebola outbreak, resulting in over 11,000 deaths.


  • Volunteers deployed: 210
  • Cases: 14,122
  • Deaths: 3,955

Sierra Leone’s outbreak was declared over on 17 March 2016.


  • Volunteers deployed: 47o trained (100 active)
  • Cases: 10,666
  • Deaths: 4,806

Liberia’s outbreak was declared over on 9 June 2016.


  • Volunteers deployed: 1,247
  • Cases: 3,804
  • Deaths: 2,536

Guinea’s outbreak was declared over on 1 June 2016.


  • Volunteers deployed: 300
  • Cases: 1
  • Deaths: 0

Senegal’s outbreak was declared over on 17 October 2014.


  • Cases: 20
  • Deaths: 8

Nigeria’s outbreak was declared over on 19 October 2014.


  • Volunteers deployed: 186
  • Cases: 8
  • Deaths: 6

Mali’s outbreak was declared over on 18 January 2015.

Life Beyond Ebola

Life Beyond Ebola is a collaborative photography project launched by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to highlight the strength and resilience of communities living with the effects of Ebola in West Africa.

The portraits included are of people whose lives are directly or indirectly affected by the world’s worst outbreak of Ebola virus disease. The photographers are either locally sourced or international Red Cross staff and volunteers.

Life Beyond Ebola website