In September 2014, TTC and International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) supported the Ministry of Health in Mali to undertake a two-week information and sensitisation campaign to prevent the spread of Ebola. Initiated in partnership with the Connect4Change consortium, the campaign used SMS to send information to people on their mobile phones, focusing on the populated capital of Bamako and two health districts bordering neighbouring country Guinea, which has the largest population affected by the outbreak in recent months.
Although Ebola had not affected Mali (at the time of the campaign and of this writing), the prevalence in neighbouring countries led the government to develop contingency plans, which include raising awareness among the Malian population. Over a 2-week period, people could SMS the word EBOLA free of charge to short code 36011 and receive several text messages about Ebola for the following 2 days. The messages contained information on disease characteristics, prevention, transmission, protection, and where to report cases of Ebola. People also received messages on how to get additional information if needed.
The campaign and short code was promoted through flyers distributed at strategic places such as markets, bus stations, schools, health centres, and other busy centres. In addition, radio spots in the local language, Bambara, were also used to encourage people to access the SMS information. Following the campaign, TCC intends to conduct an interactive SMS quiz to measure the impact amongst participants by testing their knowledge levels.
The SMS campaign is complementing other activities being conducted by the government as part of the national contingency plan, such as informing national health staff on mayor aspects of the disease. As part of this, Connect4Change partner Le Centre d’Expertise et de Recherche en Télémédecine et E-Santé (CERTES) is collaborating to develop and launch a distance learning programme for health professionals.
Ebola, Health, New Technologies
TTC, International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD), Ministry of Health in Mali