Ebola is the latest pandemic to hit the world. The virus has infected approximately 8 000 people and has caused nearly 4 000 deaths in five West African countries, since the first outbreak in March earlier this year.
The rest of the world is on high alert regarding this pandemic, so how do we inform people about the facts, help those with the virus get response to the rest of the country, place ways of preventing it from spreading and how do we take action to eradicate this threat? Mobile marketing could be the key in combating the Ebola virus in Africa.
Sub-Saharan Africa is currently undergoing a mobile digital revolution, with 635 million mobile subscriptions forecasted by the end of 2014. This in itself could be key in informing sub-Saharan countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo about the Ebola threat. Feature phones have a larger share of the African market and using SMSes to inform people about the virus could be crucial in ending the scourge of Ebola. Through SMS campaigns, people in affected areas will also have a platform to give vital feedback to authorities and in so doing, possibly prevent the virus from spreading further.
Sub-Saharan Africa populations use mobile phones for online activities, showing how technology overcomes weak or non-existent landline infrastructure in the swaths of the world’s poorest continent. By using this technology we can monitor where the virus is spreading and direct better resources in particularly hard hit areas. By informing Africa with the bulk SMS service, we also include a USSD (unstructured supplementary service data), which could allow certain areas to respond with information such as their location, details of infection within the community and in turn they could get information on medical resources in their areas.
This is not the first time African countries have experienced an Ebola outbreak. Past epidemics have been suppressed rapidly. The latest outbreak has been labeled by scientists as the deadliest to date. However, all is not lost. By giving people a visual prevention chart, they can monitor the outbreak and also gain valuable information on Ebola. A great way to send out a prevention campaign like this is with MMS (multimedia messaging services), which will overcome the language barriers through the use of visuals.
Quick facts: SIX ways to prevent Ebola
- Avoid physical contact with people showing symptoms of the Ebola virus.
- Wash your hands regularly with clean water and soap.
- Keep away from (fruit) bats, monkeys, dead animals and bush meat.
- Animal products should be thoroughly cooked before consumption.
- Inform health authorities immediately in case of contact with expected or confirmed Ebola cases.
- Only travel to areas where there is an Ebola outbreak in case of urgent need.
Africa takes action now
Information is key in stopping the pandemic – the more people know about it, the less chances the disease has to infect and kill. But with any action to be taken, there is always an associated cost. Channel Mobile has taken up the fight for Africa with an Ebola campaign. Channel Mobile knows this pandemic could affect us all if it is not stopped now, so they have created a campaign called ‘Ebola Stops Now!’
Donate R20 to this campaign by texting 49277 with your name and a positive message around this pandemic. Keep an eye out on our social media platforms for more information.