The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has announced a partnership with BBC Media Action, the UK-based broadcaster's international development organization, to improve communication and public awareness about the Ebola crisis in West Africa.
Part of the foundation's effort — in which it has invested $26.5 million to date — to help contain the Ebola outbreak in the region, the partnership will provide emergency response and "lifeline" communication training for local media, health officials, and humanitarian organizations in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and other at-risk countries. The initiative also will produce media outputs ranging from public service announcements and mini-dramas to weekly discussion programs designed to stop the spread of rumors, minimize the stigma around the virus, and help people take action to protect their health.
"Effective communication is essential in containing this epidemic," said Paul Allen. "This partnership is vital for building a source of credible information to raise public awareness and encourage safe health behavior in West Africa. While public awareness is a cornerstone to containing this virus, it will take a coordinated global effort by all types of organizations and people to truly stop this outbreak."
"Media can be used to reach even the most isolated communities with crucial, life-saving information," said Caroline Nursey, executive director of BBC Media Action. "Since May this year, we have been working with local radio stations and authorities to tackle misinformation and stigma across Sierra Leone to provide timely, reliable information and to help people raise their concerns about the crisis. This partnership provides a huge opportunity to meet an urgent and growing need to work more widely throughout West Africa – both to bolster preparedness and improve emergency response."