Communication in the Hot Zone: Evolution of an Epidemic Response

Thursday, August 13, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Centennial I/II
August to December, 2014 was a critical period in the 2014 Ebola outbreak response in West Africa. In early September, national health systems and infrastructures had stretched beyond the breaking point; the fledgling international response was still fragmented and uneven; and messages and outreach efforts were lagging behind events. But by December, infrastructure and health systems had been bolstered to adequately handle the leveling case counts, and messaging was shifting from signs and symptoms to concentrate on high-priority actions supporting behavior change. This panel will discuss the divergent, yet strikingly similar, stories of the evolving communication response in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone and the steps taken to focus on data, consolidate crisis and risk communication and behavior change campaigns, concentrate on key messages, stand up sustainable structures, and help get to zero. From a distance, the problems plaguing communication and health promotion in these countries were lumped together, categorized, and one-size-fits-all solutions suggested. Considerable country to country communication occurred, yet the campaigns, application of risk and behavior change communication theories, and sustainable structural changes implemented in each country had distinct variations and manifestations. Join us to learn how CDC communication field teams in these three countries, during this pivotal juncture, evolved communication strategies, initiated campaigns, and developed scalable models that can inform future outbreaks and public health campaigns.

Sierra Leone: Focusing on One; Getting to Zero
Fred Smith, MA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jennifer McQuiston, DVM, MS, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Liberia: Words Were All We Had
Jana Telfer, MA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Dagny Olivares, MPA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guinea: Meaningful Messengers
Dana Pitts, MPH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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