HC3 responded quickly and effectively to assist the government of Liberia during the height of the Ebola outbreak. HC3 staff played a key role in ensuring effective coordination between various stakeholders within the government and among their partners, produced and disseminated SBCC tools and materials that enabled Liberians to understand their risk and inspired actions to mitigate it, supported a Rumor Tracking System that enabled near real time response and undertook research to provide an evidenced-based response.
In the aftermath of the crisis, HC3 continues to support the Ministry of Health to implement impactful social and behavior change communication (SBCC) programming with the goals of increasing demand for health services and promoting improved health practices at home, as part of efforts to rebuild the country’s health system.
Key activities include the following:
Launch of the Healthy Life Brand and phased campaigns. While the Healthy Life logo has existed since 2010, HC3 supported the Ministry of Health to breathe new life into it by re-launching and branding it as a symbol of trust, hope, happiness and well-being. The Healthy Life logo, used on all MOH materials represents partnership between community & health care providers, access to health information & services and building healthy families. The first campaign under the revitalized brand will focus on compassion – compassion between providers and clients; between communities and facilities; and within households. The Compassion campaign and brand were (re) launched on June 10, 2016. The second campaign, addressing Community Engagement ran from October to December 2016.
To reach the crucial cadre of gCHVs (general Community Health Volunteers) with accurate information, skills building and continued motivation, HC3 is producing a Radio Distance Learning program, Community Action for Health. It is broadcast throughout the country on national and community radio stations. The 26-episode program includes a drama component, and voices from the field and accompanying support materials that reinforce the key learning and messages. It equips gCHVs with the information they need to engage communities, promote healthy behaviors at the household level and increase demand for and utilization of health services. Feedback on the program is obtained through using mhero, an SMS based monitoring and dissemination system.
During the Ebola Crisis, HC3 Liberia adapted an experiential based community toolkit (Journey of Hope) to address Ebola related risk and action. Called the Bridges of Hope, it enabled community members to explore their fears and concerns and build their efficacy to face the disease. Building on this successful methodology, HC3 has updated the toolkit to include other pressing topics such as malaria, FP and gender-based violence and is rolling out trainings throughout the USAID focal counties (Bong, Lofa, Nimba, Grand Bassa, Margibi, Montserrado).
HC3 Liberia continues to play an important role in capacity strengthening of the government and other partners. To improve coordination and harmonization, HC3 provides input to MOH technical working groups developing harmonized messages on health communication and strengthening SBCC materials review and approval processes, and alignment of health promotion and community health activities. In addition, HC3 Liberia continues to provide technical assistance in the development and roll out of key documents such as the RMNCH Message Guide, National Health Promotion Policy and Community Health Workers Curriculum.
To improve sharing of SBCC resources and help improve the performance of SBCC and health promotion practitioners, HC3 conducted an assessment to identify knowledge management (KM) gaps and needs. Plans are underway to conduct KM trainings, re-vitalize the MOH/HED’s web portal and establish a resource center.
To strengthen use of research for evidence-based programming, HC3 Liberia supported the MOH in the analysis of the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices study (KAP I) study, the design, implementation and analysis of the KAP II study, and mobile geo poll surveys and Listening Group sessions during the Ebola crisis to better understand how people were responding to the epidemic.
During the Ebola outbreak, HC3 partner Internews developed a Rumor Tracking system that captured real time rumors in the community and worked with journalists and other health communicators to address those rumors with factual information. Post epidemic, Internews continues the Information Save Lives component and works with local media to set up county-based SMS trackers to capture how (mis)information is spreading about other key health issues and trains journalists to better address health information needs and strengthen systems for information feedback.