In DepthColumnsEbola: Where's the education?


Posted on Thursday, 31 July 2014 16:02

Ebola: Where's the education?

Billie McTernan

Ghana has been urged to take leaf off Nigeria's book and educate its citizens about Ebola.

It has been five months since the Ebola virus took its first victim in Guinea and since the first case in February, more than 670 people have died across a total of four West African countries – Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

a whole chunk of society without access to the internet or who do not speak English are left out

And three unconfirmed cases have been reported in Ghana.

The virus is said to spread by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who has contracted the disease. Health experts say fruit, bats, monkeys and bush meat are Ebola hosts.

Questions have been asked of Ghana's preparedness to deal with the virus in the event of an outbreak within its borders.

On Tuesday the Ghana Immigration Service announced that only four of the country's 42 entry points were properly equipped with detecting a person who had been infected by the deadly virus.

In Nigeria the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention published a poster in Pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, to warn its citizens of the dangers of the virus, just days after the country recorded its first case.

But in Ghana the government is yet to broadcast such public service announcements in every nook and cranny of the west African country.

While Ghanaian media houses and social media users should be commended for the efforts in highlighting the causes and preventions of Ebola, a whole chunk of society without access to the internet or who do not speak English are left out of this awareness drive.

Some media reports have highlighted that it is not uncommon for some people living in rural areas to doubt the authenticity of the virus.

Others argue that posters should be distributed, leaflets handed out in addition to radio and television broadcasts in local languages, particularly in rural areas where hunting for bush meat is most common.

Some have also suggested that both the regional bloc, ECOWAS and governments should promote the of use of free, accessible crisis softwares like Ushaidi to encourage populations across west Africa to map out and share information about the disease.

On Saturday in Kumasi a group of people gathered around their car after it broke down. Onlookers, who thought the group were from Liberia called the police to quarantine them. As one of them tried to run away he was hit by a car and left bleeding from his head and a fractured leg.

The media say if the government had carried out an extensive media campaign, such incidents would not occur.

Billie McTernan

Billie McTernan

Follow Billie McTernan as she covers the 2012 Ghanaian presidential and parliamentary elections. Billie writes on political and cultural affairs across the continent.

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