UNICEF joins forces with Ministries of Health to combat Ebola in West and Central Africa

UNICEF announced on Thursday that it will join with Ministries of Health and other organizations in seven West Africa countries to develop culturally-sensitive Ebola communication programs.

"In this environment, unfounded fears and rumors spread quickly and widely," Guido Borghese, the principal advisor for child survival and development for West and Central Africa at UNICEF, said. "More than ever, it is crucial that families have both the means and the right information to protect themselves and prevent dangerous misunderstandings."

UNICEF joined with the Red Cross and the World Health Organization to develop programs for mass and digital media, including text messaging, radio shows and TV programs. The information-dense programs will be rolled out in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

"Radio dramas, print materials, TV shows, and even voice messages are automatically sent to mobile phones," Borghese said. "We use every appropriate means of communication to reach more people, spread the word in local languages and save lives. We are running against time to avoid further spread in West Africa."

UNICEF said 111 people have died from Ebola in Guinea and Liberia since April 8.

"Ebola kills people; but more lives are put at risk because of lack of information or misinformation though rumors," Borghese said. "There is no existing vaccine against Ebola. Bringing patients with suspected symptoms to health centers as soon as possible increases their chances of survival and prevents other people from getting infected."