Channels of Hope for Ebola Prevention: Inter-Faith Trainings that Save Life

To change communities’ behavior and make them adopt new practices that are proven to be good for them and for children especially, World Vision has chosen to rely on the influence of religious leaders as one of the most effective way. Through Channel of Hope approach, the organization has trained more than 150 religious leaders from Christian and Muslim congregations in Mali. Based on bible and Koran verses, the leaders have developed key communication messages that aim to promote good cultural and religious practices to fight Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

The trained religious leaders operating at the border of Mali-Guinea have increased the level of knowledge of the communities with regards to the continuous risk of re-contamination with EVD.  World Vision Ebola preparedness program funded by the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) of the US Agency for International Development (USAID) set up an efficient mechanism directed by pastors, priests and Imams and supported by the representatives of youth, women, heads of villages and hunters’ association. Together, the different actors are working to facilitate knowledge exchange and best sharing to reinforce public messages at local and national levels. The project is implemented in 5 districts namely Kenieba, Kita, Kangaba, Selingue and Yanfolila at Mali-Guinea border.

"Now, the students of my Medersas are not only conscious of the danger of Ebola disease, but they understand the importance of critical hygiene practices such as hand washing in the school and elsewhere they are”. 

“I am very happy with the different trainings that we received”: said Adama Doumbia, the Imam of the town of Lekentou. “I am an Imam and a promoter of Medersa - religious oriented school for Islam learners - I have replicated the training in my 9 schools. Now, the students of my Medersas are not only conscious of the danger of Ebola disease, but they understand the importance of critical hygiene practices such as hand washing in the school and elsewhere they are”. 

To guarantee the success of this prevention program, World Vision associated technical/medical skills development to the behavior change dimension. Indeed, the trainers counted among them, healthcare staff as well as social development directorate agents. According to Dadé Haidara, head medical doctor: “Selingué healthcare center has limited financial capacity to train its staff and the staff of social development department. World Vision trainings have been of great help for us. Thanks to these trainings, we learnt a lot about infectious diseases protocol and we believe our new knowledge will benefit all the population in case an epidemic arises”.  

United within Ebola committees, the trained groups also make sure that people crossing from Guinea border to Mali territory go through a body check by appropriate health control zones. Up to now, more than 780 community members and 150 religious leaders benefited from the training and they are replicating them at their level as part of the community response.

"In the health district of Selingué, we received about twenty trainings. Some of these trainings took place in the most remote villages in order to facilitate the participation of everyone to this prevention and preparedness process." 

World Vision also went into remote areas to give the opportunities to much more communities to learn and save their life with this knowledge. Moustapha Coulibaly, the Ebola focal point of Selingué health district said: “In the health district of Selingué, we received about twenty trainings. Some of these trainings took place in the most remote villages in order to facilitate the participation of everyone to this prevention and preparedness process. This approach gives the opportunity to those who do not have the possibility to travel to the main villages or cities to also receive new knowledge that helps to save life. People are never too far to be helped”.