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Ebola Outbreak, Sierra Leone: Communication: Challenges and good practices

After the Ebola outbreak was declared in Sierra Leone, in June 2014, early messages about the high mortality rate of Ebola were met with fear and denial by many communities (BBC,  14/06/2015). At the peak of the outbreak, the government’s order to place more than one million people under quarantine further damaged trust between affected communities and responders (ACAPS, 10/2015) As the outbreak spread, it was important to find appropriate ways to tell people how to minimise the risk of catching the disease and what to do if it affected them and their families. The way messages were developed and disseminated evolved with the epidemic. In Sierra Leone cases spread silently until May 2014, then uncontrollably until November 2014, before slowly getting down to zero in November 2015. Now that the country has been declared Ebola free, communication remains a key aspect of community mobilisation efforts to address remaining Ebola-related issues, such as survivor stigma and complacency towards prevention measures. This is the second of two reports that ACAPS is producing with the aim of identifying lessons learned and good practice in community-led communication processes. This report focuses on Sierra Leone and the first covers Liberia. The grey boxes indicate content that relates to communication in emergencies in general and is common to both reports.

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