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.