Top seven Ebola myths we are fighting in West Africa

September 23, 2014
Photo by Kieran McConville

The size of this outbreak is unprecedented and, as yet, it shows no signs of slowing down. The only ways to stop Ebola are to build trust and fight bad information with good.

Top seven Ebola myths we are fighting in West Africa

  1. If you go into a clinic, you’ll be given an injection to speed your death.
  2. Routine blood tests and school vaccinations are a campaign to infect children with Ebola.
  3. Ebola can be cured by home remedies, like a mixture of hot chocolate, coffee, milk, raw onions, and sugar.
  4. Governments have fabricated the Ebola scare to deflect attention from scandals or depopulate rebellious provinces.
  5. Health personnel and NGO staff are the ones spreading the disease.
  6. Body parts are being harvested in the isolation units.
  7. Ebola isn’t real.

Why do they matter?

Rampant fear and distrust of health authorities results in symptomatic patients refusing to seek treatment and those who already have been diagnosed fleeing isolation wards and spreading the disease. Myth and misinformation are preventing people from following simple safety precautions that could save their lives.

The size of this outbreak is unprecedented and, as yet, it shows no signs of slowing down. The only ways to stop Ebola are to build trust and fight bad information with good.

How are we busting these myths?

We’ve been working in Sierra Leone and Liberia — two countries at the center of the outbreak — for decades. Now we’re drawing on our extensive community outreach and social mobilization experience to educate the public about how they can keep themselves safe from Ebola. We’re distributing thousands of leaflets and posters, airing radio messages and training healthcare workers, village leaders, traditional healers, and traditional birth attendants. And we’re providing clinics with critical supplies and logistical assistance to help keep them running.

Case Study: Ibrahim’s story

Ibrahim Kiss-Turay is just one example of those we’re training and the impact it can have. Ibrahim, 45, a respected businessman and community leader, was recently selected to be part of a Concern-run Ebola orientation. Just one day after the orientation, Ibrahim was alerted by a member of his community that someone had fled an Ebola medical facility and was hiding in his village.

Because of his training, Ibrahim immediately understood the risk this posed to his village. He mobilized community health workers to monitor the situation and called the Concern Response Mechanism phone line, which in turn alerted the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The Ministry sent an ambulance to the scene, the patient was taken to an observation center, and the house he’d been staying in was disinfected.

Ibrahim credits his Concern Ebola training with equipping him with the knowledge and skills to react quickly and decisively. His timely action protected his community from a potentially deadly threat.

How can you help?

DONATE NOW to support Concern’s emergency Ebola response in Sierra Leone and Liberia. Government health systems are overwhelmed. We need to keep people safe, healthy and out of the clinics. Help us train people like Ibrahim to save lives.

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