Regional and international communication experts have developed clear and harmonized messages to address the information gap in national and regional responses to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which has claimed more than 3,000 lives from the more than 6,000 cases reported in the ECOWAS region.
In addition to the strategic and key behaviour change messages designed to sensitize and elicit appropriate actions from targeted audiences in the Ebola affected and non-affected countries in West Africa, the experts at their 29-30 September, 2014 workshop in Accra, also identified appropriate channels for the transmission of the messages.
The messages are crafted in simple, direct and action-oriented language to elicit maximum impact and responses from the target audiences for the effective prevention, containment, management and control of the deadly Ebola disease.
The target audiences for the messages include the public, community, opinion, traditional and religious leaders, infected persons, their families, survivors, health workers, and border communities. Others are educational institutions, armed and security forces, the private sector, hunters and bush meat sellers, traditional healers and birth attendants, nursing mothers, mortuary attendants and the media.
The experts also developed an Action Plan with timelines for capacity building for the media and mass mobilization actors, anchored on a coordinated emergency communication response strategy using effective multi-media messaging tools.
Participants at the workshop, which was a follow-up to the ECOWAS Coordinating Ministerial Group Meeting for the implementation of the Regional Operational Plan on the fight against Ebola included health officials from the Ebola affected countries, representatives of WHO, UNICEF, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor and the John Hopkins University Centre for Communications.
Others were the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), West Africa Democracy Radio, West African Civil Society Forum, officials of the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organization (WAHO), the specialized health institution of ECOWAS.
The workshop was organized by WAHO and the ECOWAS Commission on the heels of the Ministerial Coordinating and Technical Monitoring and Surveillance Groups’ meetings on Ebola regional response for mass mobilization and community participation, both held in the Ghanaian capital last week.