Information war against killer disease

With over 200 Marburg virus deaths in Angola, an all out information campaign is now under way, Reuters reports:”Five TV and radio advertisements in both the official language Portuguese and the most widely spoken local languages were broadcast throughout the day on national media.” Reuters also reports that so far 203 of the 221 infected people have died – a devastating death rate.

This recent update from the WHO hints at significant problems negotiating cultural issues when dealing with such public health emergencies, especially when there is no cure for the disease:

In African countries, the single most important factor in controlling viral haemorrhagic fevers is the engagement of affected communities as partners in control. To achieve this engagement, local belief systems about the causes of disease and traditional rituals for mourning the dead must be respected. When the public understands and accepts a few simple messages – avoid contact with blood and other fluids when caring for the ill, don’t touch bodies of the deceased – transmission within the community can be stopped and the outbreak brought under control. WHO | Marburg haemorrhagic fever in Angola – update 9

Hopefully the information campaign now under way in Angola, can convey this message and stem the further spread of this deadly virus.

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