TWR is hastening to join the battle against the deadly Ebola outbreak by using the ministry’s communication network to spread health information across West Africa.
The emergency response project, Alert Ebola, was announced by Abdoulaye Sangho, West Africa director for TWR. His announcement comes in the wake of the World Health Organization’s report on 19 August placing the death toll since December 2013 at more than 1,200.
“We have already produced some spots and are including announcements or features in our programming,” Sangho said. “With this project we intend to do much more not only for Côte d’Ivoire but also for the whole West Africa area because Ebola is not something we want to spread in the world. And second, TWR West Africa is taking advantage of partnering with the government and others to show that we care for people at the same time we are introducing the hope in Jesus Christ.”
Omer Liacet Aboua, director of TWR’s national partner in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), has spoken with his country’s public health director, who indicated that she will make specialists available to provide information about the health crisis. In the spring, UNESCO emphasised radio’s role in keeping the public informed when it helped fund a community station in Sierra Leone to broadcast reports on Ebola.
TWR Côte d’Ivoire is also in discussions about developing a response from an association of faith-based health organizations in the country. Plans for Alert Ebola call for short spots and full episodes to be recorded for broadcast over TWR’s 100,000-watt AM transmitter in Benin as well as via satellite, on some local FM stations and on the Internet. The primary focus of the programme content will be information about Ebola and how to prevent it. Côte d’Ivoire shares borders with Guinea and Liberia, which are among the hardest-hit countries.
Initially, the project will start small, recording and broadcasting five spots and five half-hour “health magazine style” episodes in French, Bambara and three other local languages. As additional funding becomes available, more content will be produced and aired in more languages. The TWR Côte d’Ivoire team also hopes to publish fliers promoting Ebola awareness for distribution at churches and mosques. Sangho called on the international media ministry’s staff and supporters, along with other believers around the world, to pray for wisdom and prompt, effective cooperation among churches, missionaries and the government as they contend with the effects of the disease.