Audio postcard: Radio Gbarnga at centre of battle against Ebola in Liberia

Jefferson Massah (right) at the opening of a health centre in Bong County, Liberia.  Jefferson is head of programs and production at Radio Gbarnga.

As West Africa experiences the largest outbreak of Ebola ever known, misconceptions abound. In Liberia, many people are afraid of health authorities and care for their sick relatives at home, exposing themselves to the virus.

But Jefferson Massah and Radio Gbarnga are working to counter these and other misconceptions with better information communicated through the radio.

Jefferson is a radio broadcaster from Bong County, in north central Liberia. Through several training programs with Farm Radio International, he has learned the power of radio to inform and engage an audience. Alongside his team at Radio Gbarnga, Jefferson is making sure Liberians can recognize Ebola, understand it is an often fatal disease and know where to go for help.

Radio Gbarnga and other radio stations in Bong County have joined the social mobilization team of the local Ebola task force. Meeting three times a week, the team receives updates on the situation to inform their broadcasts. They also conduct interviews with international organizations and local health authorities working in their community. One of their recent broadcasts included information on a new treatment centre and updates from Save the Children and the Red Cross Society.

“Welcome to Ebola Situation Report, a radio production on Radio Gbarnga to provide updates about the Ebola situation in central Liberia. Coming up on Ebola Situation Report today, the leadership of Bong County embarks on a search for a temporary centre to contain Ebola patients while a 40-bed quarantine treatment centre is under construction by the British charity Save the Children. . . .  Nearly all health centres now abandoned by both patients and  health workers in Bong County. We will speak with the officer in charge of a community clinic in Kpaai district. What is the Liberian National Red Cross Society doing in the fight against the Ebola virus?. . .

I am Jefferson Massah with Ebola Situation Report. “

Radio Gbarnga has integrated messages on preventing Ebola into its news and current affairs programs, and allots one hour daily to allow listeners to call in and provide updates on the situation in their communities. The dedicated team has extended its broadcast day for an additional two hours to ensure their community receives the information it needs.

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