Medical students in Guinea and Sierra Leone have launched a campaign to teach people how to stop the spread of Ebola.
The "Kick Ebola Out" campaign aims to spread awareness about the disease that is ravaging parts of Africa, and distribute supplies for prevention, such as soap and chlorine.
The students, who belong to the International Federation of Medical Students Association, plan to visit local communities and speak on radio programs to spread their message. They have also created Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the word out.
"Our students build rapport before giving the guidelines," Asad Naveed, president of the Sierra Leone Medical Students' Association and one of the leaders of the effort, told Fusion in an email. He said part of job is to dispel misinformation because "people believed in a lot of myths," including the idea that Ebola is a malicious rumor started by the government to undermine the political opposition in Sierra Leone, because "that is where the outbreak started."
The student group's efforts aren't just a feel-good movement; they endeavor to make a significant impact. That's because their countries face serious shortages of doctors, nurses and counselors, so there simply aren't enough trained health professionals to spread the word about how to prevent Ebola, which makes containment of the disease tricky. And so far, spread of the virus is outpacing efforts to contain it.
An Indiegogo crowdfunding page created by the group has generated $1,134 in donations to help fund their outreach efforts. The students' goal is to raise $5,000.
The groups says they will use the money to print information leaflets and posters, buy soap and chlorine, purchase a minivan, pay for media outreach and support volunteers. Naveed's organization requested government funding, but has not received any.
"Probably because they are looking for funding at this time as well," he said, adding that the Ministry of Health has given the green light for his group to seek outside funding to pursue their efforts.
The group has created this song to urge people to join the campaign:
According to the group, many people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea still do not believe that Ebola exists. Those who know something about it may not know how to prevent it.
The World Health Organization and other groups have poured money, supplies and officials into stopping the spread of Ebola. While smaller scale, the students behind the "Kick Ebola Out" campaign still hope their efforts will help prevent the virus from killing more people.
Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.