Keeping Liberians healthy and informed during the Ebola outbreak

Jefferson Massah, right, interviews Ebola survivor Fredrick Momo in Totota, Liberia.

Liberian broadcaster Jefferson Massah: George Atkins Communications Award winner

When Ebola broke out, Liberians were in need of important health information. Broadcaster Jefferson Massah and his team at Radio Gbarnga understood this information need and formed a new show to meet them.

Radio Gbarnga, located in Bong County, Liberia, created the Ebola Situation Report, airing news, health tips and interviews related to the Ebola crisis. The broadcasters used catchy jingles to spread the word on how to identify Ebola. The show also featured regular updates from local and international health authorities on how the outbreak was being addressed.

Jefferson used the lessons he learned in FRI’s training courses, including the 2012 e-course, to ensure Radio Gbargna’s show addressed its listeners’ information needs, featuring the voices of concerned listeners as well as policymakers.

One of the challenges of fighting Ebola in Liberia was a reluctance to go to a health centre, even if showing the symptoms of Ebola; many Liberians were concerned that health centres were a place where individuals went to die. Jefferson sought to change this misconception by interviewing an Ebola survivor—a man who went to a health clinic when he recognized the signs of Ebola and received the appropriate treatment.

Listen to a clip from the show below:

Jefferson: “A local drug peddler commonly known as Black Bag Doctor in Totota, Salala District, has survived Ebola after he came down with the virus. Fredrick Momo contracted the virus while providing home medication for a woman who later died from the virus. During a visit in Totota over the weekend, I met Fredrick Momo at his residence after being discharged from the JFK Ebola Treatment Centre and declared cured. He now tells his story.”

Fredrick: “When I was threatened from Ebola I was taken to JFK for treatment. When I got there . . . . When you have been positive, all of Bong County said don’t go because when you go they are going to spray you and you are going to die. So when I was sick I suffered a lot of people telling me ‘Don’t go, don’t go.’ But I said ‘Not go? How? I am not going to get well.’ ”

Jefferson was one of the innovative broadcasters awarded the 2015 George Atkins Communications Award. The George Atkins Communications Award recognizes rural radio broadcasters for their outstanding commitment and contribution to food security and poverty reduction in low-income countries. Learn more about the award and past winners.

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