Limkokwing University created an Ebola prevention campaign to assist the Sierra Leone Government in fighting the Ebola outbreak.
An outbreak of Ebola has been ongoing in several West African countries since May 2014, and is considered the deadliest ever by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The countries hit by this deadly outbreak include Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal and Liberia.
For Limkokwing University of Creative Technology, the outbreak in Sierra Leone is of a particular concern as its newest campus was scheduled to open in October in Freetown, the capital city of Sierra Leone.
Senior lecturer Ummi Kalthum Junid, who was in Freetown to enrol new students, was “devastated” by the epidemic. “This is so sad as students were so excited to enrol and they travelled from across their country to explore the campus.”
Her colleague Sonny Jumpo, also from Malaysia, said he was “deeply affected by the disease as I feel powerless. Everything was on track. We were to start soon and we had hired local staff to teach and this had to happen,” he added.
Since the outbreak of the Ebola virus, Limkokwing University has to postpone its operation in Sierra Leone for the time being as the si¬tuation on the ground became too dangerous and unfit. With the rampant spread of the disease and for the sake of the safety of staff and students, the new campus will only be launched when the overall situation improves.
“We are keeping a close watch and I know the government will need assistance to put the economy back on track. Our expansion into overseas markets, especially the developing world, is to partner with governments to create the human capital they need to widen and deepen their economic sectors,” Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, Founder and President of Limkokwing University explained.
As the Ebola outbreak reared its ugly head, Tan Sri Lim immediately jumped to action. Answering the Government of Sierra Leone’s call for assistance, Tan Sri Lim decided to assist the fight against the outbreak by devising a communication campaign with the slogan ‘STOP EBOLA’ and to tie the campaign in with the Sierra Leone Government’s ‘National Action Plan for Ebola Eradication’ prevention campaign.
The objective of the campaign is to educate the public to take the necessary steps to stay safe in the wake of the outbreak. The campaign uses the slogan STOP EBOLA to rally people and boost morale, and to educate the people that through their participation this deadly disease can be overcome.
The STOP EBOLA prevention campaign was developed in Malaysia. The materials were designed and produced by Limkokwing University and air-freighted to Sierra Leone at the end of August this year.
“At that time and even now it has become a matter of life and death for people to know how they must stay clean to stop the spread of the disease. There’s no other way,” said Tan Sri Lim Kok Wing, who has been in constant direct contact with the Sierra Leone government since the outbreak began.
“Our primary focus was on saving lives. The message is strong and meant to give hope to people that they can overcome the disease. We must instil a positive mindset among the people and I am sure it will go a long way to help them beat the disease,” Tan Sri Lim added.
The STOP EBOLA campaign has run through all forms of media to ensure every citizen of Sierra Leone is reached and informed. The communication channels include broadcast over the radio and television, flyers, car stickers, posters, T-shirts and also billboards which were put up in strategic places in Sierra Leone on 18 September.
On 3 September, prior to the three-day stay home containment measure as announced, the STOP EBOLA t-shirts were officially presented to His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone by the Hon. Dr. Minkailu Bah (Sierra Leone Minister of Education, Science and Technology), and Limkokwing University representatives.
Volunteers wearing these STOP EBOLA t-shirts visit homes and other places to explain to people why they need to keep themselves scrupulously clean to avoid contamination of the killer virus. The distributed car stickers were seen on all kinds of vehicles, carrying the message across towns and villages.
In a personal message to Tan Sri Lim, Dr. Minkailu Bah said he was overwhelmed by the empathy and love the University had for the people of Sierra Leone.
“(Sierra Leone) President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma was moved by your offer of support and has wholeheartedly approved the National Action Plan for Ebola Eradication. I am giving utmost priority to this matter. This is a battle we cannot afford to lose,” he added.
As at the middle of October, since the STOP EBOLA campaign has begun, the number of the calls received by the ‘117’ Ebola Hotline has been increased up to 19,653. This shows that the campaign has had a positive impact in informing Sierra Leoneans to the seriousness of the virus, while dispelling common myths.