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Ebola in Sierra Leone: new radio shows join the fight

Musa Sangarie. Ebola in Sierra Leone: new radio shows join the fight. BBC Media Action, Sept, 2014.
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'A couple of weeks ago in the middle of the night, phones started ringing across Sierra Leone. Despite the late hour, people were calling to pass on the latest rumour about Ebola that bathing in salty hot water could protect you. By the next day, the rumour had swept across the whole country. 'Such potentially dangerous misinformation is what our team in Freetown is tackling with a new radio programme. Called Kick Ebola Nar Salone (Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone), the 30-minute show is produced weekly and broadcast three times a week on our 35 partner stations across the country. 'As well as updating people with official, fact-checked statistics about the outbreak, we tackle rumours and misinformation head on. 'For example, on our second episode, we took another rumour - that the drink "bitter Kola" could cure Ebola - and asked an official from the Ministry of Health, Lansana Conteh, about it. 'He responded: "[Even] under normal circumstances, those rums aren't good for you, let alone drinking it as a prevention or cure. Bitter Kola has nothing to do with Ebola! It can't cure or prevent it - and people should stop peddling that information to mislead the public!" 'So memorable was Lansana's reply that our presenter, Amara Bangura, was stopped by listeners after the programme who wanted to talk to him and praise him about the exchange... 'Providing accurate, timely and reliable information in such a time of fear and denial is essential. But giving people the chance to get their voices heard is vital too.'

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