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Ebola in West Africa: Helping people find the healthcare information they need

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If you do a search on Google for Ebola health education materials, you get 9,340,000 results. I am reminded of the metaphor of trying to drink from a fire-hose, describing the increasing problem of not being able to find the information you need in an ocean of information that you don't need.

Meanwhile, we have learned how misinformation about Ebola has spread like wildfire. And we have even seen a disconnect at the 'higher' levels of information, for example the Nigerian Ministry of Health website which, as we highlighted 3 weeks ago, continues to carry inaccurate information for its citizens - including the disastrous implication that it is not safe for citizens to attend health facilities.

The health information and education aspects of the Ebola outbreak illustrate what is wrong with the global healthcare information system today. Over the past 10 years, the focus has been on improving technological access, and there have been massive improvements. The priority over the next 10 years is to enable people to find the content they need: content that is reliable and in the right language, format, and educational level for the user, and appropriate to the user's context... *and* to help people (especially citizens and those who are most vulnerable to misinformation) to differentiate reliable, relevant information from the vast mass of other information that is either unreliable and/or not appropriate to their context.

Please refer to the links below for useful protocols and resources.
Guide for US hospitals evaluating suspected Ebola pts (Han 364):  http://emergency.cdc.gov/han/han00364.asp
CDC infection and prevention control recommendations for US hospitals: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/hcp/infection-prevention-and-control-recommendations.html
CDC Advice for students and colleges about ebola in West Africa: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/advice-for-colleges-universities-and-students-about-ebola-in-west-africa

WHO information and resources including response, information control, patient care and more: http://www.who.int/csr/resources/publications/ebola/en/

Medbox clinical management pocket guide for front line workers: http://www.medbox.org/ebola-toolbox/clinical-management-of-patients-with-ebola-pocket-guide-for-front-line-workers/preview
Medbox infection prevention and control guidance: http://www.medbox.org/ebola-toolbox/interim-infection-prevention-and-control-guidance-for-care-of-patients-with-suspected-or-confirmed-filovirus-haemorrhagic-fever-in-health-care-settings-with-focus-on-ebola/preview

WHO ebola factsheet: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs103/en/

MSF ebola information: http://www.msf.org.uk/ebola

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'Here are some low literacy Ebola educational materials in multiple languages:'

UNICEF: http://www.unicef.org/cbsc/index_73157.html

SOS International: https://www.internationalsos.com/ebola/index.cfm?content_id=398&language_id=ENG 

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There are some excellent references on the CDC website:
these two links provide information for people who are not healthcare providers: 

http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/qa.html
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/humanitarian-workers-ebola

this is a link to infographics that provide basic information about the disease, symptoms and prevention.
http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/pdf/ebolakeymessagesupdated.a2.july1.14.pdf

UNICEF guidelines for ebola in the community

http://www.unicef.org/cbsc/files/Guidelines_for_Ebola_in_a_Community.pdf

the UNICEF website also has some information in Bantu, and some other languages common in the countries affected.
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The CDC has radio messages in English and local languages for download: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/guinea/radio-spots.html
Date of HIFA message: 
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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Author Name: 
Neil Pakenham-Walsh
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HIFA2015
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Neil Pakenham-Walsh is the coordinator of the HIFA campaign (Healthcare Information For All) and co-director of the Global Healthcare Information Network. He is also currently chair of the Dgroups Foundation (www.dgroups.info), a partnership of 18 international development organisations promoting dialogue for international health and development. He started his career as a hospital doctor in the UK, and has clinical experience as an isolated health worker in rural Ecuador and Peru.  For the last 20 years he has been committed to the global challenge of improving the availability and use of relevant, reliable healthcare information for health workers and citizens in low- and middle-income countries. He is also interested in the wider potential of inclusive, interdisciplinary communication platforms to help address global health and international development challenges. He has worked with the World Health Organization, the Wellcome Trust, Medicine Digest and INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications). He is based near Oxford, UK. www.hifa2015.org  neil.pakenham-walsh AT ghi-net.org
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