The Gambia’s all round approach towards creating the awareness for the prevention of the deadly Ebola virus in the country has been given another strong force with the production of a song by four Gambian artistes.
The initiative conceived and sponsored by the United States Embassy in Banjul in collaboration with The Gambia’s Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and the World Health Organisation (WHO) office in Banjul seeks to beef up awareness on the disease and the various precautionary measures that can be adopted to avoid contracting the disease.
It came after numerous initiatives by the authorities in The Gambia, aimed at preventing the disease from spreading over to the country. The Gambia is still an Ebola-free nation, however, four of its sister neighbours are still battling the disease.
The disease has killed more than 2, 000 people since its first outbreak in Guinea. The latest death toll is 2,296 out of 4,293 cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Nigeria as of 6th September according to the WHO. Nearly half of all infections have occurred in the past three weeks.
The Republic of Senegal was the fifth West African nation to be hit by Ebola after a 21-year-old Guinean student travelled to the neighbouring country from his home epicenter of the disease. But news of the “full recovery” of the 21-year-old man by the Senegalese health authorities was greeted with much joy.
The song’s messages have been conveyed in three languages – English, Mandinka and Wolof, featuring Artistes Baddibunka, Cess Ngum, Sandeng and Killer Ace, with Kora back-up by Amadou Susso. “Ebola knows no age, race, religion, or creed, but with vigilance, knowledge, and education, The Gambia can remain Ebola-free. While the deadliness of Ebola is terrifying, the good news is transmission of Ebola is in fact difficult. What is important is to provide the requisite knowledge about how to prevent the spread of Ebola,” said the US head of diplomacy in Banjul, Richard T. Yoneoka, during the lunching of the song at American Corner along the Kairaba Avenue. “The US Embassy wants to help; we are here as a partner in the fight against Ebola. While we were brainstorming about how to become involved, we focused on our belief that there was no more powerful tool to spread information especially in The Gambia than the radio and music. As such, we are proud today to release “Ebola Song”, a song in Mandinka, Wolof, and English featuring some of the best musicians in the country. The song explains how to avoid Ebola, further bringing education to the Gambian public about the disease. We are looking forward to hearing this song on repeat on every radio station throughout the country,” he explained. He thanked the Ministry of Health and the WHO for their involvement in preparing the song and for the great work they are going to make the public aware about Ebola.
The WHO country representative, Dr. Charles Sagoe-Moses said his office was pleased to work with the Ministry of Health and the American Embassy to launch this CD about Ebola. “It shows that when we work together, we can make a difference. The song is about hope in the midst of a challenge or difficulty. Ebola is a disease that can kill, but it’s also a disease that we can do something about; we can protect ourselves to prevent Ebola; we can protect our families; we can protect our nation and The Gambia can be free of Ebola,” he underscored.
The Gambia’s Health minister, Omar Sey, believes the production of the song is the most efficient way of disseminating the messages to sensitise the public about Ebola. “We could not have done it better than this; it is a step in the right direction. This is very dear to my heart in the sense that we are faced with big challenge as the sub-region is very volatile. I have hope with this CD the public will be better sensitised,” he said. The minister is of the belief that the song will greatly help in allaying the fears among the populace, noting that Ebola is a killer diseases, but it can also be prevented.