News / Africa

    Nigeria Using Facebook, Twitter to Inform People About Ebola

    FILE - Men read newspapers with headlines about the Ebola Virus in Lagos, Nigeria.
    FILE - Men read newspapers with headlines about the Ebola Virus in Lagos, Nigeria.
    Heather Murdock

    The Nigerian government says communication is its first line of defense against Ebola.  With no known cure and new fears about a potentially infected corpse found at a mortuary, health officials are Facebooking, Tweeting and writing radio jingles in an effort to reach everyone in Africa's most populous country.  Their main message is “Wash your hands.”

    If there can be such a thing as “good news” about Ebola, there was good news in Nigeria on Thursday. 

    “At the moment there has not been any single additional incident of infection that has been reported.  And this is important because we are beginning to see some panic reports, particularly within the social media," Minister of Information Labaran Maku said.

    Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
    x
    Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014
    Ebola cases and deaths, as of July 27, 2014

    The only known Ebola death in Nigeria was Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American who died in Lagos two weeks ago.  The 69 people known to have had contact with Sawyer are all being monitored.  Two are in quarantine.  
     
    The more time that passes with no new infections, the more likely it is that Sawyer didn’t pass Ebola to anyone in Nigeria.
     
    Precautionary measures

    But new fears are rising.   
     
    In an interview with a local television station, Anambra State Health Commissioner Joe said police have shut down a mortuary in his state, fearing the body of a man who died in Liberia, and was transported to be buried in Nigeria, was infected with Ebola.  Mortuary workers have been isolated as a “precaution” as they await results of blood tests from the body.
     
    In neighboring Delta State, residents of Warri, a crowded, chaotic oil city, say they fear an Ebola outbreak in Anambra would quickly reach them.  
     
    The rapidly spreading disease has killed more than 700 people this year in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
     
    Most at risk

    Mike Igini, who runs a medical lab in Warri, says the most frightening thing about Ebola is that medical workers are the most likely to get infected.
     
    “There is much fear and there is apprehension already because we don’t know whether it’s going to spread to this place very soon or even if it’s already.  Though no major case has been reported, there is fear all over the place," said Igini.
     
    Alleviating fears, he says, would require a massive education campaign that lets everyone know how to protect themselves from getting infected.  And officials say that is exactly what they’re doing. 
     
    “We are adopting different channels to reach out to the people, the traditional media, radio and television.  We’ve agreed on programs in the next couple of days to weeks, you will see programs on television," Minister Maku said.
     
    Facebook, Twitter, Mobile

    Health officials are also posting information about how the disease spreads and numbers to call for questions or to report illness on their Facebook page, that are being Tweeted by other agencies, like the Nigerian Police.  
     

    And while about half of all Nigerians don’t have access to electricity, let alone Twitter, next week officials say Ebola information will be sent to people’s mobile phones.
     
    And the messages they will send are fairly simple.  Health officials urge people to avoid handling bats or primates or eating unregulated “bush meat.”  Most importantly, they say, the public is urged to wash their hands after touching people or surfaces, especially in a hospital.

    Hilary Uguru contributed to this report from the Niger Delta.

    • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant along the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
    • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation mixes disinfectant before spraying it on the streets to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
    • An employee of the Monrovia City Corporation sprays disinfectant inside a government building to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia,  August 1, 2014. 
    • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets to prevent panic as fears of the deadly Ebola virus spread in the city of Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
    • Liberian soldiers walk through the streets in an attempt to control public fears of the deadly Ebola virus, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
    • An Ebola public awareness campaign utilitzes a billboard with the face of Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Monrovia, Liberia, July 31, 2014. 
    • A Liberian military police truck with information on the prevention of Ebola patrols through the city, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
    • Liberian soldiers patrol the streets on foot and in vehicles to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014.
    • Liberian soldiers in a medical truck with a posted sign on it that reads 'Ebola Must Go,' as it drives around the city to help prevent panic, Monrovia, Liberia, August 1, 2014. 
    • Center for Disease Control photo showing an Aeromedical Biological Containment System which looks like a sealed isolation tent intended for Ebola air transportation, July 31, 2014.

     

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.