Ebola survivors in West Africa are connecting with each other and sharing public health advice, as well as speaking about the challenges they face in post-recovery, using an interactive mobile app available through #ISurvivedEbola, the ground- breaking West African multimedia campaign.
The innovative digital tool debuted in Guinea on 5 January, piloted by the first Guinean survivor to share her story with the #ISurvivedEbola campaign. The website also houses the stories of a growing community of Ebola survivors from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. In the first message sent via the mobile app, Camara “Fanta” Fantaoulen said: “Yes, I survived Ebola, thanks to the help of the brave health care workers who treated me. And I’ve learned that together, we can defeat this virus and protect our families and communities.”
After losing her father and five other family members to suspected or confirmed Ebola, Fantaoulen believed her death was imminent when she tested positive for the virus. Thanks to a combination of early treatment, strict adherence to her treatment plan, and sheer determination, she recovered from the virus and is now providing psychosocial support to Ebola patients.
The mobile app is the latest component of the #ISurvivedEbola campaign, which leverages survivor stories from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea to deliver vital public health information about Ebola to affected populations, and to reduce the stigma faced by Ebola survivors.
A key way in which the campaign does this is by documenting survivor stories in video, audio, and print formats; then disseminating these stories broadly via local, national, and international media, online platforms, and other distribution channels. Educational radio dramas that tell fictional yet reality-based stories of survival, and radio call-in shows that feature Ebola survivors as guests, are among the campaign activities.
#ISurvivedEbola is part of the #TackleEbola initiative and is implemented by PCI Media Impact in collaboration with Unicef.
Each survivor who has shared his or her story through the campaign is given a smartphone installed with the app. This helps them to use the technology to share information about their lives after recovery. The smartphones and the app were provided and developed with support from the charity fundraising website GlobalGiving. With the release of the app and launch of the website, the #ISurvivedEbola campaign has completed the first phase of its roll-out. It includes two additional survivor story videos from survivors in Liberia and Sierra Leone, respectively.