Road to Recovery
The drama is set in a rural community called Tonkoloko, in Sierra Leone. Since the Government of Sierra Leone lifted the ban on public gatherings enacted during the Ebola outbreak, people in the community have different attitudes towards the actual threat Ebola poses to them. These attitudes range from complacency to vigilance in adhering to preventative practices. Two survivors, a mother and daughter, Yeanoh and Musu were discharged back into the community shortly after the lifting of the ban. Some people, like Abdul and Sedu, are hesitant to believe health workers when they say that survivors cannot transmit the virus through casual contact and see this as reason to stigmatize them. They also believe the lifting of the ban is justification for reverting back to old societal practices. While others, see the benefit of remaining vigilant and the importance of listening to the advice provided by community leaders and health care workers. Romance, deceit and confrontation also pepper the drama providing a space to discuss the implications of viral transmission through sexual intercourse and recommended practices in an unscientific climate.
Video testimonials like the one featured above aired three times a week on national television. Four different videos at 3-5 minutes provided an account from an Ebola survivor. Many Ebola survivors were alienated from their communities out of fear the deadly disease would continue to spread. The clips aimed to share the survivor’s experience while not only expressing the severity of the disease and the importance of taking proper precautions, but showing re-assimilation into communities is possible.
The Ebola Rapid Response program in Sierra Leone will produce a 20 episode Entertainment-Education radio drama that will air on 1 national radio station and 3 local radio stations. 4 3-5 minute video testimonials will also be recorded to be broadcast on national television in Sierra Leone three times a week, each, and online through social media. The radio drama will be aired in four hotspot regions of the country (Freetown, Kenema, Port Loko and Kambia) in the most commonly spoken dialects (Krio, Mende, Temne, Susu, respectively). The radio drama and videos will contain key Ebola related health messages on the following themes: Complacency, Reintegration and stigma, Trust in the Health Care system, & sexual transmission of Ebola.
An in-depth analysis on Road to Recovery provided data proving the Entertainment-Education model can be paramount in tackling complex and urgent health care issues like Ebola. The E-E approach is able to take a complex issue and explain it in a way that is not only understandable, but promotes interest in dialogue. Radio hosts and expert guests that followed the radio drama were essential in sparking conversation that led to unraveling myths about the disease. Discussions allowed for a reiteration of proper procedures to follow in avoiding Ebola and the steps to take if you or a member of the community developed symptoms. However, feedback provided addressed a desire to elaborate on the resources and services available in local communities. In the future, the dramas will have a more explicit connection to the messages discussed in the call-in shows.
Road to Recovery was effective in gaining a large fan base of all ages. Research found women mainly listened to radio shows for current events, and men listened mainly for sports. Road to Recovery gathered men, women, and children, some of which required finding neighbors who own radios in order to listen. Thus, the drama fostered community dialogue by bringing neighbors together under one roof. Respondents expressed the call-in show was their favorite part of the drama because they were able to participate in the discussion. There they were able to ask questions about what was presented in the drama, as well as add to the call-in discussions getting tips from expert guests. It was suggested that a guest should only give an answer if they are equipped to do so.
In future seasons, PCI Media Impact will use feedback to ensure the improvement of broadcast programming. Improvements will include: a longer broadcast time, organizing Radio Listening Groups, encouraging text messages for call-in show dialogue, and increased advertisement. Overall, the response to Road to Recovery was positive and achieved its goal of raising awareness of preventative practices.
Blue Capes is a collaborative partnership led by PCI Media Impact and the PVBLIC Foundation. PCI Media Impact is a UNICEF LTA holder, and already works with UNICEF on 8 different programs in Mozambique, Syria, West Africa, Malawi and globally on Polio and with the Comics Uniting Nations campaign.