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

Kurdish President: More Needed to Defeat Islamic State

In interview with VOA's Persian Service, Massoud Barzani says peshmerga forces have not received weapons, logistical support needed to successfully fight IS in northern Iraq More

Sierra Leone's Stray Dog Population Doubles During Ebola Crisis

Many dog owners fear their pets could infect them with the virus and have abandoned them, leading to the increase and sparking fears of rabies More

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

New methods for mapping pain in the brain not only validate sufferers of chronic pain but might someday also lead to better treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs