“Communicators have a relevant role in Ebola awareness” Says Health Minister


By Sarjo Camara Singateh The Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Mr. Omar Sey, underscoredGroup photo of participants 3 the relevant role that communicators have in the fight against Ebola in helping to disseminate accurate and up to date information to the general public.Minister Sey said this in his opening statement at the two day training for communicators on the Ebola Virus Disease organised by his ministry, in collaboration with the British Broadcasting Corporation Media Action Group and with support from USAID and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation held at the Kariaba Beach Hotel from the 11th to 12th March 2015. He said media platforms are key in the fight as they can communicate preventive, life-saving and risk mitigating information rapidly and efficiently. “It is important to note that good communication can help people understand how to stay safe and motivate them to protect themselves and their communities from Ebola,” he added. The health minister said this training will help the whole country to respond rapidly and effectively to a possible outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease and the knowledge and skills gained will be applied to any crisis  (disease outbreaks) and will also prepare participants to be better able to communicate with affected populations. “I would like to urge all of you to act upon the voice of the community by scaling up the two day engagement and ensure that social mobilisation remains at the top of all prevention and epidemic control plans,” said the health minister. He said they need to act fast and to translate the already well – known scientific impact of Ebola into realistic and concrete actions at all levels. The health minister concluded his speech by expressing gratitude to the funders of the training. Mr. Don Dugan, the lead trainer from the BBC Media Action Group, said communicating lifeline stories help to equip the masses with information instead of making news of them. He also highlighted the importance of the mass media which includes all the media platforms. For his part, Mr. Modou  Njai, the Director of Health Promotion and Education, who also chaired the event, said this training is key and will  help the communicators across the board to disseminate relevant and timely information on Ebola. He stressed the need for the communicators to be informed before informing the masses. The Director of Health Promotion and Education concluded that the Gambia still remains free from Ebola. The training included role plays, sending lifeline communication strategies, positive media reporting, how the media can mitigate fear in sending information from different media platforms, amongst other things.]]>