#BBCtrending: Can social media help prevent the spread of Ebola?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

West Africa is in the grip of the world’s deadliest outbreak of Ebola, and many in the region are using social media to educate each other on the symptoms and prevention methods.

#FactsOnEbola has been trending in Nigeria, with many sharing ways to prevent contracting the virus. “Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach pain #FactsOnEbola” tweeted one man in Benin City.

“I started #FactsOfEbola this morning after having a conversation about the disease with friends,” says Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian blogger with over 100,000 Twitter followers. “I have a civic responsibility to serve the public – my followers and my country,” he told BBC Trending.

Across Africa, social media is used for campaigning, for example the recent #BringBackOurGirls campaign which highlighted the plight of the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. But when it comes to a disease, isn’t it the role of the authorities to help educate the public? Omojuwa admits he’s not a medical expert, but says he’s keen to spread as many facts as possible. “I think it’s better to bridge the gap between ignorance and information,” he says. Since he started the hashtag on Tuesday morning, it’s had nearly 2,000 tweets.

Source: BBC News (link opens in a new window)

Health Care
Base of the Pyramid, infectious diseases, public health