LP USA Plea to the National Ebola Task Force: Structure Formal and Consistent Communications to the Public
First Released 8/14/2014
Over the last several weeks, there have been rumors and conflicting reports coming out of Liberia regarding the impact of the Ebola virus on our country, as well as the handling of the crisis by the government. Such rumors and associated confusion are counterproductive to the unified effort that is needed to fight this deadly virus. Liberty Party USA believes that much of such rumors and confusion can be eliminated if the public receives formal, consistent, and timely communications from the National Ebola Task Force regarding its approach, progress, and status of the fight against Ebola.
It is based on these observations that LP USA is offering the following suggestions to the government’s Task Force as we partner with fellow Liberians, international partners and the Task Force in the fight against Ebola:
1. Present to the public an overall plan for how the Task Force intends to eradicate Ebola. This will allow the public to understand the entire process and take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. Limited results are obtained by only giving orders to the public without fully explaining the reasoning, purpose and benefits of following those orders.
2. Designate and notify the public of a single point of contact who will officially provide all communications to the public regarding Ebola. This person will then serve as the communications specialist for the team. Utilize traditional and new media (Facebook, Twitter, online news etc.) to formally interact with the public and provide information. Allowing multiple government officials to speak or offer conflicting reports on the same issue is alarming and creates a sense of panic for all Liberians. Such actions leave the perception that the team handling Liberia’s worst attack does not have a handle on the crisis.
3. Provide formal daily press briefings to update the public and media, speaking to key issues including but not limited to the following:
• Reinforce what it is you want the public to do to help prevent the spread of the virus.
• Trends the Task Force is observing regarding the spread of the virus.
• Aspects of the Ebola response efforts that have been successful and others that have not been successful.
• The gaps in our response efforts and what the team is doing to fill those gaps.
• Advice or information to help the public cope with the impact of the virus, the state of emergency and other economic factors impacting their lives.
• Assistance needed from domestic and International partners.
The information provided should be given in a concise, standardized way so it is easy to understand and disseminate using all forms of media. The sincere, accurate and transparent dissemination of information by the Ebola Task Force will help quell the fear, anxiety and rumors that perpetuate in the absence of adequate information. LP USA believes that the fight against Ebola is won primarily with accurate Ebola prevention information and secondarily with supplies and resources for health care professionals. Accurate information is a proactive approach to preventing the spread of the virus among individuals and between regions.
LP USA calls upon all Liberians to exercise restraint and follow the instructions of law enforcement and our health care professionals who are risking their lives daily in clinics and health centers as they fight against Ebola. We cannot hold to superstitions, conspiracy theories, and cynicism if we are to win the fight against Ebola. Our international Partners are making tremendous sacrifice to help us; we must therefore match their sacrifice by obeying the law, following the instructions of health care professionals, and doing our part to help our neighbors and communities.
Similarly, we call upon law enforcement to exercise patience and identify with the fear and apprehension of the public. We ask that they use the power of information and community engagement to carry out their duties at the level of professionalism with which they are trained.
Lastly, we remain confident that there is strength in the Liberian resolve. That despite our differing socio-political views and ideals, we can come together as One Nation, One People; knowing that with God on our side, and the wisdom that He affords us through our international partners and health professionals, we will remain standing as a people after Ebola.
Philip B. Suah, Jr.
Chairman, Liberty Party USA