By Sailu Bah
The U.S. embassy in Banjul has commissioned a song to promote Ebola awareness in the Gambia. The song is performed in Mandinka, Wollof, and English and features artists like Badibunka, Killa Ace, Sandeng, and Ses Ngum; the song was produced by Oumar “Tra” Traore of Xalam Studios.
The occasion was graced by U.S. Charge d’Affaires, senior officials from the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization, Media and the artists featured in the song. The event was staged at the American corner at Comium building on Thursday 11th September 2014. The CDs were distributed to all participants and media representatives from different media outlets.
This song is produced with the aim of sensitizing people within the community and school children for them to be able to know something about Ebola and how one can prevent oneself from the disease.
In his remarks, Mr. Abdoulie Njai, Director of Health said the song will help in raising the awareness of people within the community on what Ebola is all about.
He further said Ebola is a deadly disease that has killed over thousand people within the countries affected.
He explained the complexity of controlling Ebola and added that a single Ebola victim can cause an outbreak in a country.
He further cited the early signs and symptoms of Ebola, which he said are similar to Malaria.
“If anyone is feeling feverish, body pain and vomiting you can please try and rush to the nearest health center for a check up, but not to wait until the symptoms get worst. If not it might bring catastrophe” Mr. Njai asserted.
Mr. Njai urged people to be practising regular hand washing with soap and hand sanitizers and added that people should do away with hand shaking for the meantime.
In conclusion, he said anyone who has seen a suspect or needs further enquiries on Ebola, he or she can call their hotline on 1025.
Dr. Charles Sagoe Moses, WHO representative, said it is a pleasure to work with the Ministry of Health and the US embassy in the fight against Ebola.
He said the Ebola song is a song of hope, because it will make it very easy for everyone to understand Ebola and how it can be prevented.
“This song can help us know how to protect ourselves, families and our nation from Ebola. If we can do basic personal hygiene, we will protect ourselves, and also report early if one is observing the signs and symptoms, and avoid touching dead bodies,” Dr. Moses advised.
Minister of health Hon. Omar Sey, thanked the US embassy for coming up with this good initiative that would make it easy for the Gambian people to be aware of Ebola and how to prevent themselves from it.
“Is good to bring about what we have at home for easy understanding of the people. These artists are well known to the public all over the Gambia from Kartong to Koina,” he explained.
Mr. Sey explained that this is what was lacking, because messages have been sent across through posters and other forms, but this song will really help to educate people especially school children.
“Lots of children have gone on holidays to different places and schools are about to open. Soon school children will understand the song and start singing it, which will be very much easier in the protection of the younger ones from Ebola and the issue of fear would be cleared,” he opined.
Minister Sey concluded by saying ‘in protecting yourself from Ebola you need to know how to do it.’
US Charge d’ Affaires Richard T. Yoneoka t said Ebola does not know age, race, religion or creed. Likewise Ebola, with this current outbreak starting in a remote village in Guinea Conakry, does not know borders.
“Vigilance, knowledge and education are critical in keeping the Gambia Ebola Free. The good news is transmission of Ebola is in fact difficult. What is most important is to provide the public the requisite knowledge about how to prevent the spread of Ebola,” Mr. Yoneoka advised.
He furthers said both prevention and treatment, is a team effort. He added that the US Embassy is seeing what the government of the Gambia led by the Ministry of Health is doing, and the World Health Organiisation’s latest initiatives.
“The US embassy wants to help, we are here as a partner in the fight against Ebola. While we were brainstorming about how to become involved, we focused on our belief that there was no more powerful tool to spread information especially in the Gambia than the radio and music.
As such we are proud today to be releasing “the Ebola song,” a song in Mandika, Wolof and English featuring some of the best musicians in the country,” he explained.
He added that the song is adapted from a track released by the US embassy in Freetown, Sierra Leone by Jimmy B, Steady Bongo, and Hyden Adama. He said that the Embassy is looking forward to hearing this song repeatedly on every radio station throughout the country.
He concluded that the song would also be available for free download via facebook on www.facebook.com/usembassybanjul.