According to a CBC article, estimates warn that as many 1.4 million people could become infected with the Ebola by early next year unless there is a massive intervention. So far, medical researchers here in the West are finding it hard enough to limit the spread of the virus inside hospitals at home, let alone control the outbreak in West Africa.
But maybe they can take a cue from inside the hot zone, where locals have hit upon “a surprising weapon in the fight against the spread of the deadly Ebola virus: pop music.”
Yeah, you read right:
Aid workers who’ve come up against roadblocks like illiteracy, poverty and skepticism are getting a boost from local artists who are lacing popular music with simple lifesaving advice.
Adolphus Scott, a Liberian communication specialist for UNICEF, teamed with local artists to release the song Ebola Is Real.
The track … helps dispel rumours that the virus is a political scam….
Why would anyone in Africa assume the disease is not real? One reason, at least in Liberia, is that decades of corruption have left the people suspicious of their government:
When Ebola first appeared in Liberia, many of the people in the country thought it was a scam crafted by the government to attract funds from international donors. This meant that Ministry of Health messages on precautions to avoid transmission fell on deaf years. Coupled with a culture that values close interactions with friends and loved ones and beliefs that medical ailments can sometimes result from “juju,” a kind of voodoo magic, residents’ mistrust of government has carried Liberia to its current state of crisis.
An article published last month in the Liberian newspaper, the Daily Observer, fueled fears that the Ebola epidemic in West Africa was a bioterrorism experiment conducted by the United States Department of Defense. The article’s author, Cyril Broderick, who teaches in U.S. university, is Liberian-born, lending further credence to his claims in the eyes of hot zone residents.
The song, in the meantime, has risen to the top of the charts on Liberian radio. According to the CBC article:
The message has been so pervasive, it’s in rotation on more than 50 stations across Liberia, and can be heard on cellphone ring tones throughout the country.
The next step is to translate the song into traditional languages to reach a wider non-English-speaking audience in the country.
An audio clip is here for your listening pleasure:
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