WHO has published a new article: Involving everyone: social mobilization is key in an Ebola outbreak response. Excerpt:
“Our country has been hit by Ebola, a dangerous viral disease. The virus is dangerous, but you will not get infected if you follow our recommendations. Here is what you can do to protect yourself and your family.” The voice of a man in a Red Cross loudspeaker car drowns out the cries of market vendors and the noise of heavy traffic and a crowd of people starts to gather around the vehicle.
It is Saturday and the busy marketplace of Matoto in the Guinean capital, Conakry, is full of vendors and shoppers.
Several people from Matoto have contracted Ebola and their family members and other contacts are being followed up for 21 days, which is longer than the infection’s period of incubation. The community is scared and upset and people are in need of accurate information.
“We are targeting our outreach activities to the districts where there have been cases of Ebola,” says Benjamin Pé Goumou, spokesperson of the Guinean Red Cross. “We ask people what they know about the disease and respond to their questions.”
Ebola outreach campaign in the community
To reassure the population, the mayor of Matoto and representatives of the Guinean Ministry of Health, Red Cross, WHO, and religious leaders came together to kick off the Ebola outreach campaign in the community.
“It is difficult to make people here understand, as many of them can neither write nor read. Therefore, we do talk to them in simple phrases and in their local languages,” explains Soumah Mouctar, one of the 25 Red Cross volunteers who are helping to spread the word in the capital. “The Red Cross is a respected institution in Guinea and therefore people listen to us and believe in what we tell them.”
Soumah and his colleagues go to marketplaces, bus stations, and other busy places to raise their megaphones and disseminate key messages about Ebola developed by WHO and its partners. In addition, the volunteers go from house to house to provide information, respond to questions and sometimes also distribute soap and small bottles of chlorine. The Red Cross also works in the forest regions where the virus made its first appearance.