ebola grafitti

Learning Lessons about Ebola from a Continuing Outbreak at the #SBCCSummit

Despite an outpouring of local and international effort and support, new Ebola cases continue to crop up, most recently in Sierra Leone.

ebola grafitti

Courtesy of Flickr

The international development community must continue to tackle the outbreak using a multi-faceted approach, with a strong emphasis on social and behavior change communication (SBCC). During the height of the outbreak, SBCC interventions were critical in changing harmful health practices that contributed to the rapid spread of the disease. As we attempt to end the epidemic, it is more important than ever to focus our efforts on maintaining the behaviors that were so crucial in slowing the transmission of Ebola.

The International SBCC Summit is an excellent forum for SBCC experts and practitioners to share the strategies and best practices that they’ve implemented in the fight against Ebola. As a SBCC professional working on a post-Ebola recovery program in Guinea, I am particularly interested in learning more about interventions that encourage people at the household and community levels to adopt healthier behaviors. Practices that were encouraged during the epidemic, like hand washing with soap and infection prevention and control, have implications for improving and maintaining health beyond the Ebola outbreak. On Tuesday, February 9, from 14:00-16:00 in the Small Briefing Room, the skills-building workshop, “Fun and Games Changing Lives: SBCC in Low Literacy Settings,” will feature the Bridges of Hope tool, which was adapted for use in Ebola-affected communities in Liberia. Participants will leave with the tools that they need to design and implement similar programs in their own projects. As part of HC3’s work in Guinea, we are adapting this tool to empower community members to take charge of their health after Ebola, so I think this session will be especially useful. Another presentation focusing on the power of community-driven change is “Reach Every District (RED) Strategy: A Response for Community Participation and Ownership,” by John Sumo.

The conference will also be featuring “Comm Talks,” (shorter versions of the popular TED talks) on numerous topics, including Ebola. First up is Hassan Arouni’s talk, “Using Serial Dramas to Face Ebola” (Monday, February 8, 16:30-15:30, Conference Room 1), followed by Ida Jooste’s presentation on the News Media and Ebola (Tuesday, February 9, 16:30-15:30, Conference Room 1.)

The Education Entertainment Showcases on Tuesday, February 9, from 18:30 to 20:00 will feature two Ebola–related presentations: Dr. Ousseini Abdoulaye, “Le Dilemme de Binta: de la Reéflexion à l’Action pour le Changement de Comportement” and Sean Southey, “#Isurvivedebola: Communicating Ebola Survivor Stories to Inform, Protect and Inspire for Change in a Public Health Emergency.” I am especially looking forward to Mr. Southey’s presentation because it is about the survivors of the epidemic and the role they can play in behavior change. Thousands of survivors will be affected for years to come, by both stigma surrounding the disease and largely unknown residual health issues. As we move toward a world without Ebola, it is important that we do not forget those who survived and make an effort to include them in our programs.

Below are other Ebola-related events. For the full schedule of Ebola content, click here.

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