Ensuring adequate communication during the Ebola virus outbreak

Created on Monday, 15 September 2014 Published on Monday, 15 September 2014

The Ebola virus has been spreading in West Africa since February and so far has claimed nearly 2,000 lives, which makes it the largest Ebola virus outbreak ever recorded. The outbreak began in Guinea, and has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria. The virus spreads by contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. The current outbreak is killing between 50% and 60% of people infected.

In crisis situations like these it is essential to maintain connections between the affected countries and the outside world to tackle the epidemic effectively. However, in West Africa this has been particularly cumbersome. Multiple airlines, for fear of spreading the disease further, have limited or cancelled their flights to Africa, making it harder for medical personnel and supplies to arrive to the affected regions. Limited access to some areas has also complicated the registration and isolation of patients.

It has been suggested that social media tools could be used to improve communication between healthcare providers, local and national authorities, and international agencies, as well as the reach of early warning systems. Some people have already taken to social media and have been spreading general information and the latest news about Ebola through the use of #FactsOfEbola and #EbolaFacts on Twitter. However, internet and mobile connections in Africa remain quite limited, and so it is unknown how many people actually receive these messages.

More information available here.