Ethiopia initiates text messaging campaign against Ebola
ADDIS ABABA – Ethiopia launched on Saturday a phone text messaging campaign to raise funds as part of a continental drive for fighting the deadly Ebola virus.
The campaign seeks to encourage ordinary Africans to be part of the fight against the virus by sending text messages with their cell phones with the slogan “StopEbola 7979” written in them.
Funds raised as part of the campaign are expected to be used in training and deploying more volunteers under the African Union Support to Ebola in West Africa operation, which aims to enhance the capacity of existing national and international response mechanisms to the virus.
African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma lauded Ethiopia for launching the campaign.
“Ethiopia always takes the lead to contribute in the affairs of Africa,” Dlamini-Zuma said during the launch ceremony of the campaign in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
“Ethiopia has earlier sent voluntary health workers to Ebola affected countries to strengthen the fight against Ebola,” she added.
The campaign is expected to kick off on Monday. Text message prices will vary from one African country to another. In Ethiopia, phone owners will be charged 5 Ethiopian Birr (approximately $0.25) for each text message they send within the campaign.
Dlamini-Zuma called on the media to highlight the stories of, not those who are killed by Ebola, but those who survive the disease.
“Efforts are underway in the fight against Ebola,” Dlamini-Zuma said. “Success will, however, be declared when we accomplish the goal to end it,” she added.
The campaign is expected to run in a wide range of countries, including Botswana; Burundi; the Central African Republic; Ghana; Kenya; Lesotho; Madagascar; Rwanda, and Tanzania.
Ethio Telecom, Ethiopia’s state-run phone service provider, meanwhile, signed a memorandum of understanding with the African Union in the light of which the national Ethiopian telecommunications company would hand campaign funds over to the organization.
In recent months, Ebola – a contagious disease for which there is no known treatment or cure – has killed 6,915 people, mostly in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization.
The deadly virus has so far claimed 3,290 lives in Liberia, 1,768 in Sierra Leone and 1,428 in Guinea.
But Sierra Leone is ahead in terms of new infections, with 7,798 cases, while Liberia is second with 7,719 and Guinea third with 2,283.