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Mobile Radio Skits Raise Ebola Awareness in Sierra Leone


FILE - A health worker checks the temperature of a girl at the entrance to a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone.

FILE - A health worker checks the temperature of a girl at the entrance to a Red Cross facility in the town of Koidu, Sierra Leone.

As Sierra Leone starts the 42-day countdown to being declared Ebola-free, the national Red Cross is using mobile radios to remind people about Ebola prevention.

Isha Wilson-Clarke stands outside in the Mountain Cut community on the east of Freetown. She tells residents to avoid body contact of any kind. And remember to always call 117, the emergency hotline, if you’re experiencing vomiting, high fever or other possible Ebola symptoms, she says.

What makes this awareness campaign unique is that these skits are broadcast on mobile radios that the Red Cross provides to communities.

Taking questions from the audience while people in other communities listen in, Wilson-Clarke explains the interactive nature of the tool.

“This radio in a box is a participatory drama, not only do we act for them, but we need the voice of the people. We communicate with them and ask them what they understand.”

Sierra Leone discharged its last confirmed Ebola case on September 27. The country must now go 42 days with no cases before the World Health Organization can declare it Ebola-free.

Broadcasting officer for the Red Cross Edward Aloushious Renner says the mobile radio project keeps people talking about Ebola so they don’t get complacent.

“It’s something that excites them and they want to tell their stories. It’s an easy way of getting stories from the people,” he says.

He says the performances teach people that an ambulance does not mean a death sentence.

At the peak of the crisis, people saw patients going into ambulances and never coming out and many are still afraid.

Watching the Red Cross performance in Mountain Cut, resident Zainab Kanu says the skit is especially good for parents with young kids, like her, who may have been reluctant to call 117.

The Red Cross plans to expand the program throughout Freetown.

The latest Ebola outbreak has killed almost 4,000 people in Sierra Leone, and more than 11,000 people across West Africa.

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