Mercy Corps: Public Health Campaign Helps Liberians Turn the Tide of Ebola Virus Outbreak

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Through local partners, lifesaving information reaches 2 million people

Mamu Paasewe and Bendu Fahnbulleh, community educators trained by Mercy Corps, talk about ways to prevent the spread of Ebola.

We established a network of trusted partners, health trainers and over 15,000 community educators to bring lifesaving anti-Ebola messages to almost half of the country’s population. - Penelope Anderson, country director for Mercy Corps in Liberia

As Liberians mark one year since the first confirmed case of Ebola in their country, a community-based public-health education campaign is helping to bring the virus under control and setting the stage for Liberia’s recovery. Led by the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, the massive campaign has successfully reached 2 million people in the past six months with lifesaving prevention practices and behaviors to reduce Ebola transmission. The organization will also be providing cash transfers and agricultural supplies such as seeds and tools to families whose livelihoods suffered during the outbreak.

“The epidemic has been overcome in large part through the collective adoption of prevention measures that reduce the spread of the virus,” says Penelope Anderson, country director for Mercy Corps in Liberia. “We established a network of trusted partners, health trainers and over 15,000 community educators to bring lifesaving anti-Ebola messages to almost half of the country’s population, including people living in some of Liberia’s most remote areas.”

Community educators use house visits, village meetings and mass media to educate people on effective hygiene practices and protocols for dealing with those who are sick or have died. A second mobilization campaign, begun in February, is supporting the reintegration of survivors, health workers and others who have been to Ebola treatment units and now face considerable discrimination at home. Recent surveys show that stigma has begun to drop.

“We’ve accomplished a lot already, but we’re not out of the woods yet,” says Anderson. “Ebola can flare up quickly and spread fast, so we continue to caution people to keep their guard up and protect themselves, their families and their communities against this virus.”

The Ebola Community Action Platform (ECAP), led by Mercy Corps and funded by USAID, is Liberia’s largest consortium of organizations conducting anti-Ebola campaigns, with more than 70 local and international partners. Since the work began, almost 20 percent more people correctly recognize that they should not directly touch anyone sick with Ebola – a behavior critical to prevent the spread of the disease.

Mercy Corps has worked in Liberia since 2002, supporting its economic recovery and social transition following years of civil war.

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Christine Bragale
Mercy Corps
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