Emergencies preparedness, response

Speaking Ebola: practical messages for reaching communities

March 2015

WHO and CDC staff visit a remote village in Liberia to raise awareness on Ebola.
WHO and CDC staff visit a remote village in Liberia to raise awareness on Ebola.
WHO/R. Sorensen

Although Ebola has been infecting and killing thousands of people in West Africa, many people and communities remain sceptical or simply uninformed about the importance of taking simple, practical measures to protect themselves and their communities from the virus.

Such messages inform individuals, families and communities, in clear practical terms, of the ways in which they can minimize their risk of catching the disease, and help them to support their family and community members safely and humanely.

When used as part of real dialogue with and engagement of individuals, families and key stakeholders in the community, clear practical messages can help overcome fear and reluctance to alert surveillance teams to potential Ebola cases.

A few messages

  • Ebola is real and kills. But you can protect yourself, your family, and your community.
  • Be alert – help stop the spread of Ebola. Speak with your local community leader if you suspect someone with Ebola in your community or call the toll free Ebola Hotline XXXX for advice.
  • Do not touch a sick person with suspected Ebola or someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Ebola causes sudden high fever, extreme tiredness, headache, body pain and loss of appetite. If you have a sudden high fever after contact with a person with Ebola or after attending a funeral, go to the nearest health facility.
  • Early treatment of Ebola at a health facility increases your chance of survival. By going to the health facility the moment you have symptoms, you protect your family and community and help stop the spread of the disease.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water after every social contact.

A manual providing guidance on use of practical messages based on WHO technical guidance have been developed by technical teams from WHO and UNICEF and are available: