Working with communities to support them through the crisis and help bring Ebola to an end.
During the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Red Cross teams went door-to-door and worked with community elders and religious leaders to ensure families knew about how the virus is spread, what the symptoms are, and the importance of early treatment. Besides the door-to-door visits to deliver key messages and enter into a dialogue, the Red Cross is using a range of communication channels, from television soap opera and interactive radio programmes to SMS messaging to promote behaviour change.
Myths were debunked, the truth was told. The disease is not airborne, or spread in water, or passed on by witchcraft or evil doers. It comes from direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.From the community in turn, structured feedback provided a wealth of information and data.
Community engagement was not new but the needs thrown up by Ebola had established it as an essential tool found across the board of operations.
Communities in action
More needs to be done to engage communities facing infectious disease outbreaks in famine threatened countries in Africa as well as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) where Ebola has recently resurfaced.
In the past week alone, over 150 Red Cross volunteers have been mobilized to provide emergency assistance following the announcement of an Ebola outbreak in Likati health district of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On 9 May 2017, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared a suspected Ebola outbreak in Likati Health Zone in the far north of the country.
Mary Juana was a nurse at the ‘kindergarten’ at the IFRC Ebola treatment centre in Kono, Sierra Leone. She is also an Ebola survivor. This is her story.