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  • Neelley Hicks

Health Crisis in East Democratic Republic of the Congo

Photo credit: UNMEER/Martine Perret

Article by Philippe Lolonga

“No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing.”

           – Dr. Oly Ilunga, Minister of Health

According to the Weekly Bulletin of the Ministry of Health in Congo published last weekend, Ebola has claimed 200 lives in North Kivu where the outbreak remains “dangerous” and “unpredictable.”

Among the dead are seventeen Methodists from the Beni District. Reverend DS Ezechiel Mathe is heartbroken by the rising death toll in the face of the epidemic, but has confidence that God will not leave us. He is grateful for the work being done by the Communications Team in East Congo, and the partnership they share with Harper Hill Global.

Together, we are working to inform greater populations about the importance of hygienic practices: “We focus on preventive measures in raising the awareness of the masses in the churches by sending out SMS messages, and [through] the local media,” explains the Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba of the East Congo Episcopal Region. The Communications Team in East Congo, led by Judith Osongo, is currently carrying out this mission of engaging with affected communities through various media outlets.

Mr Dieudonne Lodi hears the awareness message for washing hands via RTGB/Beni.

Osongo’s group started by creating and distributing a radio spot (above) about the importance of handwashing. The advertisement airs three times a day on Radio RTGB in Beni, and has already reached thousands of people. The Communications Team has also been utilizing SMS messaging and WhatsApp broadcasting to spread messages of “prevention and peace” to cell phone users across the affected region.

Soon, information will be hitting television airwaves as well. Within the next two days RTGB will begin broadcasting “In Praise of Prevention,” an animation promoting Ebola awareness, to more 10,000,000 people. Osongo hopes that by raising community awareness through the media she and her team will be able to help “curb this epidemic.”

She adds that “with the help of the Lord we will overcome.”

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