An ambitious public information campaign aiming to reach every household in Sierra Leone with life-saving messages on Ebola will takes place from 19 to 21 September in a bid to reduce the spread of the disease with the help of community members.
The Ose to Ose Ebola Tok initiative, which means ‘house-to-house talk’ in the Sierra Leonean local language, is an initiative led by the Ministry of Health of Sierra Leone, with support from local and international partners.
Over three days, more than 28,500 social mobilizers, youths and volunteers in teams of four go door-to-door to reach 1.5 million households to share information on ways families can protect themselves against the Ebola virus disease and prevent its spread.
Each group will consist of a health worker, a community volunteer, a youth leader and a teacher, who will knock on every door to dispel rumours and misconceptions about the Ebola virus disease and promote good practices, such as hand-washing with soap, among other interventions. Each household reached receives information, education and communication materials on Ebola prevention and a bar of soap for hand washing.
“We have been sending life-saving messages through radio, TV and print, but it’s not enough,” said Roeland Monasch, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone. “Rumours continue to spread, putting more lives at risk and hampering humanitarian efforts”.
Committed to support large-scale prevention initiatives against the spread of Ebola, UNICEF has supported the national health authorities through financial and technical support, including education and information materials for distribution in every household.
Given the scale of the crisis, UNICEF’s support to this massive undertaking aims to reach the largest number of people with important advice, information and guidance on preventing Ebola. Tackling the outbreak in the heart of communities in a sensitive and respectful manner, is a critical strategy in defeating Ebola, alongside the support needed for clinical care.
“This is an opportunity to hear from families what they want to know about Ebola. If people don’t have access to the right information, we need to bring life-saving messages to them, where they live, at their doorsteps. The fight against Ebola will not be won in treatment centres only; it also needs to happen in every household,” said Monasch.