Fact and Fiction in the Fight against Ebola
There is also no shortage of discourse about Ebola in the media, on the Internet, and across our social networks. Unfortunately this discussion has included its share of fact and fiction.
And both, it appears, are playing a significant role in how effectively we can confront this disease.
Plan International – Racing Against a Deadly Virus
“We are racing against a deadly virus. Appropriate and timely information can save lives from Ebola.” This statement is from Adama Coulibaly, Regional Director for West and Central Africa at Plan International.
Plan International – one of the oldest and largest children’s development organizations in the world – is on the ground battling the outbreak in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Plan International believes it is urgent that people in these countries hardest hit by Ebola be made aware of public health measures they can take to protect themselves from the lethal virus.
Without this knowledge, people put themselves at particular risk.
A Doctors Without Borders press release from earlier this summer cites a good example. It describes how a lack of understanding about how the disease spreads resulted in people attending funerals where no infection control measures were implemented.
Plan International is helping respond to this information gap in a number of ways. This includes running public health information campaigns – complete with radio broadcasts, posters, and leaflets – as well as training health workers in effective infection control procedures.
A Battle on Two Fronts – Fighting the Rumor Mills
But even as global aid organizations work to contain the spread of the disease, an epidemic of misinformation is hampering their efforts.
Again, according to Plan International, rumors arising from a lack of appropriate information in the affected areas are, “further complicating the response by government and humanitarian agencies.” Fear and mistrust have driven some victims of the disease to evade treatment altogether.
Plan International believes that children will be among the hardest hit by the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. Not only are young people being infected by the deadly virus, they are also becoming, “orphaned, stigmatized, and discriminated against,” as the outbreak continues to spiral.
A Chance to Help
Even those of us relatively far from the front lines of this ongoing struggle are challenged to filter out the noise – everything from politically charged commentary to email scams and conspiracy theories.
But it is worth the effort. Almost assuredly, it will be the proven data – not the rumors and misinformation – that helps the world meet this growing crisis.
In the meantime, all of us can take action.
Plan International’s Global Chief Information Officer, Mark Banbury, is speaking at the HR Tech Europe conference in Amsterdam this month. No surprise that he intends to talk about the power of the right information – specifically how Plan International’s HR system helps it manage and deploy teams of specialized employees and freelancers around the world.
As one of the organizers of this event, SuccessFactors – an SAP company – is raising money to support Plan International’s efforts against Ebola in West Africa. Your tweet can help. According to Thomas Otter, VP Product Management at SuccessFactors, the company will donate €1 for every tweet posted during October 23rd and 24th that contain both #SuccessFactors and #HRTechEurope, up to a maximum of €5,000.
Please join me on Twitter at @JohnGWard3.
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