- Title: NIGERIA: Africa's bloggers using social media to tackle Ebola
- Date: 14th August 2014
- Summary: CITI 97.3FM STAFF WORKING ON THE COMPUTERS VARIOUS OF MAWULI TSIKATA, ONLINE MANAGER AT CITI 97.3FM WORKING
- Embargoed: 29th August 2014 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Health
- Reuters ID: LVABRCNCVNS39KYRR7VMP4AP2QKL
- Story Text: In the IDEA hub, in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial, young information technology (IT) professionals are housed under one roof, all working on new innovative technology solutions.
One of them is 27-year-old Babajide Fadoju, who is using social media to sensitise people to the risks of Ebola and how to avoid contracting the deadly virus.
Three people in Nigeria have died so far during the outbreak.
"The most important fact is people have got to know what is actually happening so they know how to combat it," said Fadoju head of Hexavia Logistics. "The most important aspect of all the viruses, of all the problems has got to do with talking about it because you need to know what is happening for you to be able to tackle it. So the most important aspect of all things that we do is actually talking about it, hence talking about Ebola is one of the best things that has actually happened with the Ebola virus."
The IDEA IT workers are among a group of bloggers and activists in Nigeria who have taken it upon themselves to educate people about Ebola through social media platforms.
Japhet Omojuwa is a blogger who started the hashtag #FactsOnEbola on Twitter. He says people are more likely to read short and precise messages than longer ones.
"The people on social media are some of the society's most influential. If they get an issue started they are likely to have that issue become a national issue too. They have access to those that are not on social media so if they are interested, if they are made to know and understand the dangers and the risks of us not stopping Ebola from being a Nigerian issue then they will likely get to reach their parents, their sisters their cousins their relatives," says Omojuwa.
The West African Ebola outbreak is the worst in history and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said last week that it represents an international health emergency that will probably continue spreading for months.
At least 1,000 people have died during the outbreak and almost double that number have been infected.
The highly contagious virus causes fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.
The Zaire strain -- the one currently spreading through West Africa -- can kill up to 90 percent of sufferers, although in the latest outbreak the death toll has been around 55 percent.
It is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids including blood, urine, faeces and saliva of an infected person, or with objects such as needles that have been contaminated.
Also in West Africa, local radio and television stations in Ghana are teaching people about Ebola, bringing the latest news on the spread of the disease to their audiences.
At Citi 97.3FM, Ebola is now a major part of the daily news bulletin.
According to CITI 97.3FM's, Online Manager, Mawuli Tsikata, the government should be doing more to help people understand the dangers of Ebola.
"There was a lot of media attention given to educating the public about HIV/AIDS, you'll see a lot of TV ads, there were billboards in town, there were radio commercials and the rest, but in the case of Ebola you don't see anything; you just depend on what the journalists reports to the public so I don't think the government is doing enough to educate the public about Ebola," said Tsikata.
The social media, television and radio messaging is reaching people. Residents in the capital Accra say they are now are more aware of how to prevent infection.
"I'll make sure I prevent myself enough from as many people as I can and even family members, because you may not know the next touch or contact you make with your next neighbour maybe is the start of your 21 days to your grave, and it is not something that I'm going to wish to have as a fate," said Accra resident Listowel Acquaye.
The bloggers and activists in both Ghana and Nigeria hope their message will reach as many people as possible, not just in their countries but across Africa, helping to curb the spread of one of the world's most deadly diseases.
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