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Musa Sangarie's blog

Sangarie: Ebola in Sierra Leone

To: The Health Communication Network with The Communication Initiative

From Musa Sangarie - BBC Media Action on Ebola and radio in Sierra Leone. To respond and critique Musa's perspective or to add your knowledge on this important issue please either reply by email to this note or click Read More below and comment on the platform

Ebola in Sierra Leone: new radio shows join the fight

A couple of weeks ago in the middle of the night, phones started ringing across Sierra Leone. Despite the late hour, people were calling to pass on the latest rumour about Ebola that bathing in salty hot water could protect you. By the next day, the rumour had swept across the whole country.

Such potentially dangerous misinformation is what our team in Freetown is tackling with a new radio programme. Called Kick Ebola Nar Salone (Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone), the 30-minute show is produced weekly and broadcast three times a week on our 35 partner stations across the country.

As well as updating people with official, fact-checked statistics about the outbreak, we tackle rumours and misinformation head on.

For example, on our second episode, we took another rumour - that the drink “bitter Kola” could cure Ebola - and asked an official from the Ministry of Health, Lansana Conteh, about it.

He responded: "[Even] under normal circumstances, those rums aren’t good for you, let alone drinking it as a prevention or cure. Bitter Kola has nothing to do with Ebola! It can’t cure or prevent it - and people should stop peddling that information to mislead the public!"

So memorable was Lansana’s reply that our presenter, Amara Bangura, was stopped by listeners after the programme who wanted to talk to him and praise him about the exchange.

Health Communication