fbpx

First Person: DR Congo doctor prepares for latest in long line of health crises

First Person: DR Congo doctor prepares for latest in long line of health crises

Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Email
Print

Health professionals working with the World Health Organization (WHO) in eastern Democratic of Congo (DRC), have been dealing with the deadly Ebola epidemic since August 2018. This experience is helping them to prepare for the latest disease to arrive: COVID-19.

NEW YORK, USA, April 16, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- New cases of Ebola have been reported in Beni since 10 April, resulting in two deaths, despite earlier hopes that the disease had been eradicated in the country. As well as Ebola, the population of DRC is also having to deal with malaria, measles and cholera as well as ongoing insecurity, which is partly why health workers trying to vaccinate locals against Ebola have faced mistrust, and even violence. In an interview with UN News, doctor Abdourahmane Diallo, who heads up the WHO Ebola vaccination programme in DRC, explained that this is an ongoing problem.

“Unfortunately, we have been fighting some resistance regarding the new cases: the community did not believe that they were Ebola cases, which is making life difficult for our workers on the ground. But we are doing our best to communicate with them, and convince anyone who has been in contact with the patients to get themselves vaccinated.

The cases of COVID-19 that we know about are two people who came from Dubai to Uganda, and then tried to get to Beni. As soon as we got the message, we tried to isolate them, and their conditions have improved.

Delivering the right message

We had hoped to be able to close the treatment centres, but now, with cases of Ebola, and cases of COVID-19, that has changed. Spirits are good, however. I am from Guinea, where we had Ebola, and I also coordinated vaccinations in Sierra Leone. So, I am very experienced. When we face challenges, we try to remain courageous: this is part of being a public health worker.

Communication has been a major problem throughout the Ebola epidemic, and we expect to have the same problems with COVID-19. For example, even before the new cases of Ebola this month, we had a meeting with local authorities, to make sure that the community received just one message, and that it was the right message. Within our team, we also have to be very careful to make sure that we are coordinated and speaking with one voice. 

As of now, it seems to be working: social distancing has begun; the authorities have closed the night clubs, for example, and even in the markets, people are trying to stay at least one metre apart. 

Fighting myths and rumours

Disinformation has been a problem. People have been saying that certain drugs can be used to vaccinate against COVID-19, which is not true. We explain that there is no vaccine against the virus, and trials are still ongoing. That message is beginning to get through, and we are continuing to vaccinate against Ebola.

It is very important that we keep going back to the community, as many times as necessary, to get our message across. And we have to take time to explain, and give them the opportunity to have their say, otherwise we can’t succeed. Sometimes, this means going back to the community five or six times in one day! 

I have learned that you have to know the right way to speak to the community. Sometimes, to put them at ease, I don’t wear WHO-branded clothing. I dress simply, I bring a basic mobile phone, to show them that I am like them, and that we need to work together to fight the outbreak.

Protecting health workers

Luckily, we do have enough protective clothing, because of our vaccination campaign: for some time, have been vaccinating anyone who has been in contact with an Ebola patient, and we don’t know if they are a high or low risk. So, we need to make sure that we are fully protected. And when we go into the community, we are spraying chairs, tables, everything, and ensuring that our team is wearing personal protective equipment.

As for the COVID-19 pandemic, we are worried, of course, but we hope that, if people stick to the government guidelines, and we are able to communicate those guidelines to the community, the outbreak will not spread.

I remember when the COVID-19 cases started in Guinea, my home country, I warned that anyone returning from high-risk countries needed to self-isolate for fourteen days, and not to go immediately back to their families and risk infecting them. Unfortunately, many people did not follow that advice, and now there are hundreds of cases in the country.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of UN News.

You might also enjoy

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get updates and learn from the best

Conférence de Presse en Ligne


Les frontières terrestres ne doivent pas constituer des obstacles à la dissémination de votre message. Grâce à notre service de conférence de presse en ligne, nous vous offrons l’opportunité de vous rapprocher des médias africains, chaque fois que vous en aurez besoin.

Nos services comprennent:

Digital Communications


Today, social networks constitute an organization’s first point of contact with a user and a potential customer. At first glance, you need to convince of the relevance and quality of your content to stimulate and motivate the user to go further. We create consistently inspiring online strategy to meet business objectives, engage stakeholders and enhance our client brand’s reputation internally and externally.

 

Communication​ digitale


Les réseaux sociaux représentent aujourd’hui le premier point de contact d’une organisation avec un utilisateur et un client potentiel. Au premier coup d’œil, vous devez le convaincre de la pertinence et de la qualité de votre contenu pour l’inciter à aller plus loin. Nous créons pour vous une stratégie de communication précise et adaptée sur les réseaux sociaux pour atteindre les objectifs commerciaux, impliquer les parties prenantes et améliorer la réputation de votre marque en interne et en externe.

Promotion​ d’événements


Le succès d’un événement réside en moitié dans sa promotion. Peu importe la beauté de l’événement, la qualité des orateurs et de l’ordre du jour, si personne ne rapporte ou ne parle de votre événement, vos efforts seront vains. Nous vous aidons à façonner votre récit et à créer un engouement autour de votre événement. De l’annonce de l’événement à la tenue de celui-ci, nous accompagnons votre effort de planification et le reflétons sur toutes les plateformes médiatiques.​

Formation​ Médiatique


Nous fournissons à vos porte-paroles les outils nécessaires pour présenter vos principaux messages et répondre avec confiance et cohérence aux questions. Notre formation est organisée soit à distance ou en présentiel, avec des études de cas réels et des répétitions. Nos clients repartent avec le sentiment d’être à l’aise devant les journalistes et d’agir en tant qu’ambassadeurs de la marque.

Veille​ Médiatique


Nous mesurons votre portée en relations publiques et rendons compte des informations de votre industrie et des activités de vos  concurrents en surveillant la majorité des canaux de diffusion dans toute l’Afrique. Une veille médiatique complète et opportune est essentielle pour s’assurer que vous ne manquez aucune référence à votre marque, que vous êtes constamment informé de ce qui se passe dans votre industrie et que vous êtes prêt à saisir les opportunités et à réduire les risques en temps opportun.

Relations​ Média


Peu importe le lieu où ils se trouvent, nous sommes une source d‘informations fiables pour les journalistes qui écrivent sur l’Afrique. Nous nous connaissons mutuellement et ils nous font confiance, car nous leur fournissons un contenu crédible qui les aide dans leurs tâches. Nous nous entretenons quotidiennement avec des journalistes aux quatre coins du continent, ce qui fait de nous l’un des organismes les plus efficaces pour mener des campagnes de relations avec les médias.

Stratégie et développement de contenu


Nous créons des stratégies de communication intelligentes, bien documentées et spécialisées destinées à vous aider à construire un récit fort qui engagera votre audience. Nous travaillons en synergie avec vous afin de rédiger des communiqués de presse et des articles d’opinions qui alimentent le récit de votre entreprise. Notre équipe a une expérience approfondie dans la création de récits et le développement de contenu multimédia.

DIFFUSION DE COMMUNIQUES​ DE PRESSE​


C’est le service phare d’AMA. Nous avons mis en place des canaux de diffusion des communiqués de presse auprès des journalistes des 54 États africains ainsi qu’auprès des journalistes américains et européens couvrant les sujets relatifs aux marchés émergents.​

​Nos services comprennent:​

Event Promotion


Half of the success of an event lays in its promotion. Doesn’t matter how beautiful the event is, how wonderful the speakers and the agenda are, if no one reports or talks about your event, your efforts are gone. We help you shape the narrative and create a drumbeat around your event. From the announce all the way to the outcome of the event, we accompany your planning effort and echo it through all media platforms

Media Training


We provide your spokespeople with the tools to present your key messages and answer questions with confidence and coherence. Our training is organised either remotely or face-to- face, with real case studies and rehearsals. Our clients leave feeling comfortable being in front of reporters and acting as brand ambassadors.

Media Monitoring


We measure and report on
your PR reach, industry news, and competitive activity by monitoring most channels in North, West, Central, East and Southern Africa. Comprehensive and timely media monitoring is critical to ensuring that you don’t miss any reporting of your brand,
you’re constantly informed on what’s going on around your business, and you’re ready to capitalise on opportunities and mitigate
risks in a timely fashion..

Media Relations


We have become an authoritative source of news for reporters writing about Africa, wherever they are. We know them, they know us, and they trust us for providing them with timely and accurate content that helps them do their job. We speak to reporters on a daily basis in all corners of the continent and this makes us one of the most effective agencies in running media relations campaigns.

Strategy & Content Development


We create smart and localised communications strategies to help build a strong narrative that will engage your audiences. We partner with you to create press releases and thought leadership pieces that sustain a drumbeat for your company’s narrative. Our team have deep experience in shaping narratives and developing media content.

PRESS RELEASE WIRE DISTRIBUTION

This is AMA’s flagship service. We have set up channels of distribution towards the journalists of the 54 African states, as well as to American journalists and European journalists covering emerging markets issues.
Our service includes:

Editorial advice

Localised editorial piece when needed

Distribution to the major print, broadcast and online publications along with industry-specific publications

Follow-up calls to secure interview request

Guaranteed distribution to Africa.com

Distribution to Bloomberg, LexisNexis and Thomson Reuters

Social Media Reach: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram

Full online monitoring and print monitoring when available. Includesreadership stats and Advertising Value Equivalent

Translation in French, Arabic and Portuguese available