In fighting the Ebola virus or any other health threat for that matter, western health officials and researchers need to gain an understanding of the world’s diverse ethnic differences. Rituals for burying and mourning the dead, greeting family and friends, treating wounds and injuries, and other unique cultural and social practices may differ from one ethnic group to another. It is also important to understand beliefs about illness and how different illnesses may be transmitted.
Although eHRAF World Cultures may not contain any information on the “Ebola virus” or other recent diseases, it does contain valuable information on cultural customs and beliefs for ethnic groups in Africa and other regions of the world. Health officials for the Red Cross and World Health Organization (WHO), may find eHRAF a useful resource as they interact with local communities.
eHRAF World Cultures is an online database that is produced by Human Relations Area Files (HRAF), a non-profit organization at Yale University. eHRAF is unique because its ethnographic texts are indexed with subjects and organized by culture names and regions. This unique subject indexing and classification system facilitates cross-cultural research for all aspects of social and cultural life.
Check out “Topics Covered” for a list of indexed and searchable subjects found in eHRAF. “Cultures Covered” provides a list of culture names and regions currently included in the online eHRAF World Cultures database.
September 16th, 2014 NPR news article about the cultural challenges that western health officials are faced with in fighting the spread of the Ebola virus in rural communities of West Africa: http://wshu.org/post/hiccups-were-clue-led-researchers-ebola