Date Posted: October 6th, 2014
As West Africa experiences the largest ever outbreak of Ebola, misconceptions abound. Many in Liberia, afraid of the health authorities, care for their sick relatives at home, thereby exposing themselves to the virus.
Jefferson Massah and Radio Gbarnga are working to counter misconceptions about Ebola with better information, communicated through the radio.
Mr. Massah is a radio broadcaster from Bong County in north central Liberia. Through training programs with Farm Radio International, he has learned about the power of radio to inform and engage an audience. With his team at Radio Gbarnga, Jefferson is making sure Liberians can recognize Ebola, understand it is an often fatal disease, and know where to turn for help.
Radio Gbarnga and other radio stations in Bong County have joined the social mobilization team of the local Ebola task force. The team meets three times a week to receive updates on the situation, and then Radio Gbarnga uses this information to keep their audience up-to-date with the latest news. The station also conducts interviews with local health authorities and international organizations working in their community.
A recent broadcast aired information on a new treatment centre and updates from Save the Children and the Red Cross. Here is an excerpt from that program:
“Welcome to Ebola Situation Report, a radio production on Radio Gbarnga to provide updates about the Ebola situation in central Liberia. Coming up on Ebola Situation Report today, the leadership of Bong County embarks on a search for a temporary centre to contain Ebola patients, while a 40-bed quarantine treatment centre is under construction by the British charity Save the Children…. Nearly all health centres now abandoned by both patients and health workers in Bong County. We will speak with the officer in charge of a community clinic in Kpaai district. What is the Liberian National Red Cross Society doing in the fight against the Ebola virus? …
I am Jefferson Massah with the Ebola Situation Report.“
Radio Gbarnga also incorporates messages on Ebola prevention into its news and current affairs programs, and one hour a day is dedicated to listeners calling in to provide updates on the situation in their communities. The radio station team has extended its broadcast day by an additional two hours to ensure their community receives the information it needs.