Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (VHFs) such as Ebola and Marburg are some of the world’s deadliest diseases, with a fatality rate of up to 90%. Since there are no ostensible cures, the best way to contain such outbreaks is to educate people to recognize the symptoms early enough, as the risk of transmission and death is far lower in the early stages.

Also, the recent outbreaks of the Ebola virus disease in Africa created fear, panic and uncertainty occasioned by mis-information. This has necessitated the need for different stakeholders to provide resources for the free-flow of information and adequate enlightenment on the scourge to the people.

Henceforth, ACFODE organized a sensitization campaign as part of efforts to create awareness on VFHs. Specifically, the drive, which took place between the 15th and 26th of June 2015 in local communities of Ntoroko and Kisoro Districts, was aimed at spreading preventive awareness on the deadly viruses.

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Kisoro District DSFP Nick Muneza answers questions relating to EBOLA during a community meeting with L.C Chairpersons

The campaign, which implored community meetings/dialogues and Market Day camps calibrated short lectures with open discussions, inter-agency exchange of experiences, as well as dialogue between the facilitators and the community members. Also, the facilitators relied on visuals such as information, education and communication materials (IECs) to enhance the community members’ understanding.

The highlights of the campaign were inspiring community lectures by District Health Educators (DHEs), District Surveillance Focal Persons (DSFPs) and Village Health Team members (VHTs) on Ebola/Marburg prevention and containment and what to do if anyone in the communities ever got infected by the deadly diseases.

While flagging off the campaign at Kiranga Village in Rwebisengo  the Ntoroko DHE, Mr. Boaz Kalitusi stressed the need for personal hygiene among the populace saying that “the best cure for Ebola/Marburg so far is in prevention of infection. The involves the practice of good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and avoiding contact with blood and body fluids (such as urine, feces, saliva, sweat, urine, vomit, breast milk, semen, and vaginal fluids).

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One of the VHTs distributing IECs at one of the Market Day Camps

On the other hand, the DSFP Kisoro Distrist, Mr. Nick Muneza encouraged community members to increase active surveillance within their communities by reporting any suspected cases to the relevant health authorities. “As citizens of this country, you have a role to play by being security conscious and working in recital with health forces in terms of information sharing to ensure a more secured country health wise.”

Furthermore, the community members were provided with information on how to deal with stigmatization of Ebola/Marburg patients, survivors and families.

The question -and-answer series that followed helped immensely with valuable information about how the community would break the chain of transmission if anybody ever got infected in the community.

It also gave the community members the opportunity to express their fears and concerns and to ask questions whose answers would help keep them, their families and the community safe.

It’s during these sessions that they challenged the government to provide them with the means to carry out preventative measures; by for instance distributing medical assorted IECs and protective materials such as masks and gloves, in addition to imploring it and other key stakeholders to carry out continuous public health education on VHFs.

The sensitization drive was part of a 6 months project titled “Rapid Response to Epidemic Outbreaks (RARE)” being implemented by ACFODE in collaboration with the Ministry of Health with support from WE EFFECT.

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Community members at Bunagaga Market in Kisoro District familiarise themselves with information on VHFs whilst being sensitized by a VHT.

Sandra Nassali

RARE Project Coordinator

snassali@acfode.org

Other contributors:

Kenneth Kabebasize

Project Officer

kenneth@acfode.org

Kalitusi Boaz

District Health Educator

Ntoroko District

boazkalitusi@gmail.com

– See more at: http://acfode.org/?dict_causes=acfode-raises-community-awareness-about-vhfs-such-as-ebolamarburg-to-help-save-lives#sthash.yiGtBBLz.dpuf

ACFODE Raises Community Awareness about VHFs such as Ebola/Marburg to Help Save Lives

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