Crafting Ebola Prevention Messages in UgandaPosted on by
I work in CDC’s Special Pathogens Branch (SPB) where we study highly infectious viruses. My job is health communications and I’ve just returned from Uganda. I was there to work with the Ministry of Health and health educators from Uganda’s Western Districts to create materials that would help keep people there safe from Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers. Unfortunately, Uganda has seen more than its share of these diseases since the first cases were diagnosed in 1967.
Ebola and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers are rare and deadly diseases with no vaccine or cure. We’re not really sure how they’re passed from their animal hosts to humans, but we know that once someone gets Ebola or Marburg, it can pass from person-to-person by direct contact. Explaining the best ways to stay safe from exposure and how to stay healthy if the disease is present in their community is critical to preventing and controlling outbreaks.
For these particular diseases, we know that many outbreaks start in remote health care settings or happen when family and community members prepare a body for burial. We must get out the important messages of segregating these patients from others and using strict precautions for personal protection if you’re going to be in contact with someone with Ebola or Marburg.
In our meeting, my Ugandan colleagues and I spent three days developing messages and — most importantly — getting the view from the district level of what would work. We agreed to develop a series of six printed products targeted to different audiences. I’ll be spending the next few months developing brochures and posters, and following up with everyone to see how the materials are received.
It takes being on the ground where things are happening to understand what people need. My Ugandan colleagues made me very welcome and it was exciting for us all to combine our efforts to keep people healthy.