"In order to get to zero Ebola cases, we must all work together. Every Sierra Leonean must take responsibility to ensure that our families, our communities, and our country will end Ebola."
"Le We Tap Ebola", meaning "Let Us Stop Ebola", is a behaviour change communication campaign urging individuals in Sierra Leone to consider how they will help bring the Ebola epidemic to an end. The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, through its National Ebola Response Center (NERC), in partnership with Social Mobilization Action Consortium (SMAC), developed a series of videos and posters with Ebola-related messages, which are being distributed throughout the country. The goal is to end both the epidemic and the stigma around Ebola survivors.
The campaign's posters and videos feature Sierra Leoneans of diverse backgrounds, from church and community leaders to food sellers, soldiers, medical personnel, and radio hosts, holding their hand to their heart and making pledges to end Ebola through specific, do-able actions. The materials highlight the role every citizen has in bringing the Ebola epidemic to an end. "I pledge to tell my congregation to take their sick people to the hospital or call 117 [National Ebola Hotline number] when someone is sick,” says Reverend Christiana Sutton-Koroma in one of the campaign videos. By showing people "like them" doing so, the campaign asks all Sierra Leoneans to also make a personal commitment to do something practical to end Ebola in the country. The idea is that by taking a pledge, you are renewing your commitment to your family and community to help end Ebola.
In an effort to look beyond the end of the epidemic, the materials feature promises to support survivors of the disease. "I commit to being supportive and kind to survivors of Ebola. I want survivors to have faith and know that Salone [Krio for Sierra Leone] will prosper once again," says Lt. Col. Bilal Conteh on one poster. "I commit to always welcoming Ebola survivors to eat at my cookery shop," says Nancy Joe on another.
During a March 2015 instruction by the Government that all Sierra Leoneans stay at home for three days and re-commit to ending Ebola, SMAC community mobilisers visited households across the country to remind people and engage them in discussion on how they can help to end Ebola. At the heart of the conversations was the request that people take a pledge and make a personal commitment or promise to do something practical to help get cases to zero. Aisha, a beautician from Freetown, was on her way to church (Christians were allowed to leave their homes to attend the Palm Sunday service and Muslims could attend Friday prayers) and was one of those photographed with her hand on her heart, pledging: "I promise to talk to my friends and family and call 117 if any of them get sick".
"Le We Tap Ebola" was launched on March 27 2015. One year later (per data of March 27 2016), there have been 14,124 cases and 3,956 deaths in Sierra Leone alone. As of March 30 2016, over 2,600 survivors in Sierra Leone have accessed a general health assessment and eye exam. The International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding Ebola virus disease (EVD) in West Africa met for a ninth time on March 29 2016. On the basis of the Committee's advice and her own assessment of the situation, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General declared the end of the Public Health Emergency of International Concern regarding the EVD outbreak in West Africa. To manage the residual risks of Ebola reintroduction or re-emergence, WHO has supported the implementation of enhanced surveillance systems in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to alert authorities to cases of febrile illness or death that may be related to EVD. In Sierra Leone, 1,220 alerts were reported from the country's 14 districts in the week to March 20 2016, and 911 new and repeat samples were tested for Ebola virus by the country's 7 operational laboratories in the week to March 27 2016.
The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation, through its National Ebola Response Center (NERC), and the Social Mobilization Action Consortium (SMAC).