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Cyvette Gibson and Paynesville’s anti-Ebola revolution

By Billie Adwoa McTernan and Patrick Smith in Monrovia Photos by Francis Kokoroko for The Africa Report
Posted on Tuesday, 21 April 2015 13:54

Along the streets of Redlight, Paynesville’s commercial district, posters show the dangers and symptoms of Ebola.

Local government has the closest connection when it comes to the people

Outside of every public building are washing stations. It is compulsory to wash your hands thoroughly with chlorinated or soapy water before entering.

Playing their part in the sanitation revolution, street sweepers collect waste from the pavements.

Leading the charge is Cyvette Gibson, the activist mayor of this city of 400,000 people.

Gibson’s office at City Hall is the epicentre for the many campaigns – health, sanitation and public information – that helped Paynesville beat Ebola.

Those campaigns are here to stay. “We have changed the culture of our children,” Gibson tells The Africa Report.

The fightback really started last July as the virus was tearing into communities, with state officials struggling to respond.

In the ballroom beneath her office, Gibson brought together 38 community leaders to warn of the looming catastrophe and to launch the campaign.

“It was one of the most profound moments in my career. […] At that time we [Liberia] had lost about 10 people.”

As she addressed the meeting, news came in of the first Ebola case in Paynesville.

Gibson had already set up community groups to work with drug addicts and the homeless; some were working as street cleaners and so became part of the campaign to clean up Paynesville.

Most important was the information campaign: the two-way flow of news between the community and officials that worked so well.

“Local government has the closest connection when it comes to the people,” explains Gibson. “When there’s an issue they knock on our door, we’re the first to hear.”

With some backing from the UN Children’s Fund, Gibson and her team set up a network of community activists: “We used community leaders and block leaders. We have over 300 block leaders in Paynesville that went door to door providing information to any one that came down with the signs and symptoms.”

While going about their duties offering information and medical services to local people, the community leaders helped monitor for signs of the virus spreading.

“That’s how we reached zero cases because we started doing community policing,” says Gibson. If you are interested in mobile gaming than mobile casino guide is a site where you could find all the necessary information

The block and community leaders kept records of who was living where, new arrivals and departures.

That community activism helped Gibson and her team to do the detailed contact tracing that is a key way to stop the spread of deadly infections. ●

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