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Submitted by Sidie Sheriff on

Based on various threads of debates on the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone that I am personally following in the social media, the controversy in that country right now hinge on five communication based issues (i) perceptions about the accuracy of tests for Ebola, (ii) perceptions about the safety of treatment of Ebola, and (iii) coercion rather than persuasion of people suspected of Ebola to go for tests (by force), (iv) coercion rather than persuasion of people tested positive for Ebola to go for tests (by force), and (v) doubts and outright denial based on conspiracy theories. The international press is limitedly attributing the escalation of Ebola to only one of those causes – doubts/denial. What actually is reinforcing this fifth cause is the other four. Therefore public awareness should be heavy on messages about the ACCURACY of TESTS and SAFETY of TREATMENT. These two messages are what would give hope to people to flock to test and treatment places. The GUN cannot do it. So far the messages now reaching the public omit these two crucials. Talking about TESTS, one medical expert debating Ebola in the social media mentioned possibilities that the antibody tests being currently used to establish Ebola positives in Sierra Leone can sometimes show false results. On TREATMENTS - there is the problem of high fatalities. These two problems are repelling rather than attracting people to the "EbolaMedics. Even where public awareness is raised, the continuous infection and deaths of medical staff and low treatment survival rates among the affected population may not abate the controversy and unrest.