“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.