Is it fear or politics? A qualitative exploration of stakeholders’ views on the failed Ebola vaccine trial in Southern Ghana


  • Samuel Tamti Chatio Department of Social Sciences, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • John Kuumuori Ganle Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana
  • Ulrike Beisel Institute of Anthropology, Faculty of Cultural Studies, Bayreuth University, Germany
  • James Akazili School of Public Health, C. K. Tedam University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Patrick Odum Ansah Department of Clinical Trials, Navrongo Health Research Centre, Navrongo, Ghana
  • Philip Baba Adongo Department of Social and Behavioural Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Legon, Ghana



Fear or politics, Stakeholders’ views, Ebola vaccine trial, Southern Ghana


Background: The negative meaning and rumours associated with the conduct of clinical trials regarding their experimental nature adversely affect trust and their conduct. A typical example of the challenges in conducting clinical trial studies was where Ghana was selected to conduct the ebola vaccine trials, which was not successful. This study explored the social and political perspectives on the unsuccessful implementation of the ebola vaccine trial in Ghana.

Methods: This was a cross-sectional exploratory study using qualitative research approach where 31 in-depth individual interviews and Key informant interviews were conducted with participants. The interviews were recorded, transcribed and coded into themes using Nvivo 12 software to aid thematic content analysis.

Results: The views expressed by participants suggested that lack of stakeholder engagement to create awareness on the Ebola vaccine trial led to doubts on the purpose for the trial. Also, media propaganda, negative influence and the perception that conducting the vaccine trial in Ghana could introduce the Ebola virus into the country created panic and fear, which affected public trust and support for the Ebola vaccine trial conduct in Ghana. Furthermore, political influence linked with site selection and timing for the study in particular, led to mistrust and the subsequent suspension of the trial in Ghana.

Conclusions: Based on the interpretation of our data, we conclude that the indefinite suspension of the Ebola vaccine trial in Ghana could largely be attributed to both fear and political influence as well as misinformation resulting from media propaganda leading to mistrust.


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Original Research Articles