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La Palabre: A New Schema for Global Health

  • William Patrick Luan (a1) and Paul Reed (a2)


The Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa has led to a paradigm shift in the way the global community responds to outbreaks of disease. This new paradigm places even greater emphasis on collaboration in global health. The palabre, the traditional African practice of mediation and decision-making in the public sphere, offers a schema from which to view current and future global health engagement. This process of dialogue and exchange has many applications to global health exemplified recently by the West African Disaster Preparedness Initiative (WADPI), a follow-on activity to the Operation United Assistance (OUA) Ebola Response effort. WADPI, utilizing the structure of a palabre, seeks to catalyze and synergize constructive collaboration to set a foundation for disaster response in West Africa for years to come. (Disaster Med Public Health Preparedness. 2016;10:541–543)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to William Patrick Luan, BSPH, BA, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, 4301 Jones Bridge Road, Bethesda, MD 20814 (e-mail:


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1. Bidima, J-G. La Palabre: Une Juridiction de la Parole. Paris: Michalon; 1997.
2. Koplan, JP, Bond, TC, Merson, MH, et al. Towards a common definition of global health. Lancet. 2009;373(9679):1993-1995. doi:
3. Bidima, J-G. Law and the Public Sphere in Africa: La Palabre and Other Writings. Indiana University Press; 2013.
4. Kondombo, P. La “Palabre Africaine” peut-elle renforcer la Démocratie en Afrique? Published December 7, 2014. Accessed August 23, 2015.


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La Palabre: A New Schema for Global Health

  • William Patrick Luan (a1) and Paul Reed (a2)


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