Ebola survivor videos, call-in shows and serial dramas deliver life-saving message
PCI Media Impact and Vulcan Productions announced on December 22, in collaboration with UNICEF, an expansion of radio and video programming of the West African multimedia project #ISurvivedEbola across Liberia and Sierra Leone. Call-in radio broadcasts that provide life-saving health information about Ebola prevention and transmission will reach more than a million listeners in Liberia, across both the UN Mission in Liberia radio station and the national Liberian Broadcasting Service. As part of the initiative, #ISurvivedEbola has also expanded its Ebola survivor video programming, currently available in Liberia, to reflect the stories and serve the population of Sierra Leone.
The #ISurvivedEbola multimedia campaign embeds critical health information about Ebola within compelling stories that engage people in a dialogue about life-saving behavior modification.
The new radio series “Ebola Is Real” is designed to reinforce life-saving health information about Ebola through compelling story-telling and interactive discussion sessions with listeners. The five-part series will air in Simple Liberian English across Liberia, and will be translated into four local languages spoken in Ebola hot spots. The program is expected to reach at least one quarter of the country’s population of four million people.
“Ebola Is Real” was commissioned and funded by Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Productions in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, as part of the #TackleEbola initiative and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s commitment of up to $100 million for Ebola relief. “Ebola Is Real” is the latest component of the #ISurvivedEbola campaign, and is produced and distributed by PCI Media Impact in collaboration with UNICEF.
Carole Tomko, General Manager and Creative Director of Vulcan Productions, states, “This outbreak has taught us that easy access to critical and actionable life-saving health information is an absolutely essential component of the Ebola relief effort. Paul Allen has been a leader in Ebola relief since the early days of the crisis, and we are constantly looking to identify gaps in the international response with urgency by putting resources and programs into the hands of the people who need them most. Behavior modification can be the most impactful way of slowing the spread of the disease, and we know from past outbreaks that with a swift, tightly coordinated response, Ebola can be stopped. ‘Ebola Is Real‘ is going to provide rapid access to the information people need to clearly understand the steps they need to take to prevent transmission of the virus.”
Sean Southey, CEO of PCI Media Impact states, “The #ISurvivedEbola campaign uses every communication outlet available to reach people living in Ebola-affected countries and teach them how to protect themselves and their families. With the launch of ‘Ebola Is Real‘, we have added the most powerful form of mass communication in Liberia to this effort: radio. We look forward to rolling out similar radio programs in Sierra Leone and Guinea, and we’ve just launched our first Ebola survivor video in Sierra Leone.”
The “Ebola Is Real” radio dramas feature realistic fictional characters who embody the everyday life experiences of Liberians. The call-in audience vicariously interacts with the characters as they face difficult decisions about Ebola. The characters are shaped by their behaviors and the consequences thereafter. Each episode is followed by an additional call-in session with listeners during which a trained host guides a dialogue. Listeners can call in using basic, widely available mobile phone technology. The call-in segments also feature interviews with Ebola experts and key opinion leaders who share accurate information and address misperceptions about Ebola and its survivors.
Adolphus Scott, a Liberian national who serves as a Communications for Development Specialist at UNICEF Liberia, says, “Radio dramas provide an excellent way to capture the public’s attention in Liberia. Not many of our people have access to television or the Internet, but at least one-third can hear a radio. The drama format is particularly well-liked, as it entertains in the same way as a television soap opera.”
#ISurvivedEbola Video Initiative
#ISurvivedEbola launched its video programming initiative with a survivor story video out of Liberia in early December. On December 22, two new videos about survivors from Sierra Leone and Liberia, respectively, were launched, including the story of Abdul Rahman Sanu, the first Sierra Leonean to appear in the campaign. Like so many healthcare workers in the region, Abdul became infected with Ebola. He is now utilizing the story of his experience to educate others about the disease.
While progress in ending the Ebola outbreak has advanced since it was declared in mid-March, much work remains needed to halt the epidemic and assist those who have been directly impacted by it. To help reach these goals, #ISurvivedEbola will continue to roll out new survivor stories and programs in the coming weeks, including the upcoming release of the first survivor video story from Guinea.