African Communications Methods: Panacea for Ebola Containment in Nigeria and Africa


Many did not know, in Nigeria, that they would have a close-shave with the dreaded Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) when its rumours of existence broke out in 2013.
It was an issue of play: the majority of people, especially students,
made unpleasant jokes about
oneanother – contracting the disease.

However, it became a different ball-game when the virus finally found its way into Nigeria, through Patrick
Sawyer
, the Liberian, who
resided in America. He was taken to First Consultant Hospital, Obalende area of Lagos, in Nigeria, where
several others contracted the virus.



In propensity of spreading the virus, Dr. Enemuo in Port-Harcourt
treated a patient that had come in
contact with Sawyer. Through this, Enemuo contracted the disease himself.


 … The ball was set – rolling: the disease
was becoming wide-spread in Nigeria
and panic gripped the country, all
over. Then, different measures of
control went viral. In the cause of escaping the disease, somebody even
committed suicide by using a large amount of salt; there was an upsurge in the sales of bitter-cola, until the country’s Ministry of Health debunked
the claim that – the preventive measures
being circulated could neither cure nor protect one from contracting ebola.
Thank God that the country,
Nigeria,
is now free of the virus,
but there is need to sensitise the generality of the populace – about the disease against the possibility outbreak
of the virus, again.
African Communications Methods are the ways
in which scholars had proved that communications or announcements were passed among African cultures before the advent of the modern communications methods.
African Communications Methods include, among others: town criers; bush burning; gun salute; masquerades; and market square.
Which of these methods will now be appropriate to use – should be the concern for
the government, including the citizenry, instead of the mass
concentration on the modern or urban cities: the outskirts and villages
are so much important as the big cities.
In their efforts to sensitise the people, The
United Methodist Church is
responding with a communications
strategy
aimed at saving lives and reassuring people of God’s
presence.
According to Kathy
L. Gilbert,
in the work, ‘Church uses
communications to combat Ebola outbreak’
, “The effort began
when cases of
the
virus surfaced in Sierra Leone in June, after
the initial
outbreak in neighbouring Guinea.
“Church officials in Sierra
Leone and,
soon afterward, Liberia, began spreading
the word
about how to fight the disease.”

It said that, a lack of information and education in local communities, compounded by distrust and denial,
exacerbated the problem,
which
allowed the virus to explode and claim more lives
in four
countries
.
Just as it said, “Muddled
messages and misinformation have
complicated
efforts to contain the deadly Ebola
outbreak
in West Africa”.

Saying that the church’s messaging
strategy includes the use of
traditional media, as
well as, emerging technology
such as texting.
In the report, Rev.
Larry Hollon
,
a top staff executive of United
Methodist
Communications said,
“In the Ebola crisis, communication precedes
prevention
and treatment.
“The contagion cannot be
contained without greater effort at
sanitation,
isolation of sick people, and proper
handling
and burial of the deceased. And this has to
be
communicated effectively and widely. In these
circumstances,
a clear message saves lives.”

Kathy reported that, Sierra
Leone
and Liberia were each
receiving a $10,000
crisis
communications grant
from United Methodist Communications, a publication arm
of the United Methodist Church,
saying that, the funds would be used
for:
Banners, posters and photocopies of
messages that aid the prevention, diagnosis and
treatment of the disease, as well as, radio airtime for messages
that address
the care and pastoral needs
of the affected communities. This

includes data
access
through mobile carriers for sharing health
and pastoral messages, and could
support town crier
outreaches, in which young
people
with megaphones
go through villages
sharing important information.

In spite of
all this, an appeal to the general public is ‘to mount demand on the Nigerian and other African
Countries’ government
to take the sensitisation
messages
to the outskirts of every state, and local government in the country’,
while still focusing on the urban cities
– in order to prevent the unbridled spreading of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), once a person contracts it.
Thanks for reading this.

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