Ebola song is real…

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If you were asked to come up with a creative way of communicating about a deadly virus would the idea of an ebola song ever have occurred to you? 

The hottest pop song in Liberia right now goes by the title “Ebola is Real.” Not surprising, perhaps, given the devastating impact of that disease in Africa.

The truly astonishing thing, however, is that the song was commissioned by UNICEF. It’s part of the United Nations’ program’s effort to communicate about the deadly virus that is fatal for up to 90% of people infected.

Pop music and public health? They seem like strange bedfellows. Until you think about it…

  • Most people in Liberia have radios, even if they don’t have computers.
  • No one has to be able to read (or buy a magazine or a newspaper) to hear a song.
  • Putting public health officials on the ground to communicate about ebola is difficult and expensive. Airing a song on the radio costs no money, once it’s been produced.
  • The beat is catchy and the information contained is accurate and helpful.

According to UNICEF’s communications expert Adolphus Scott, the song has already achieved its goals of getting wide airplay and sharing urgent public health information. In this age of the Internet, I think we sometimes assume that everyone is exactly like us, waiting for the latest update from Reddit or Huffington Post, if not from the government.

Kudos to UNICEF — not just for getting out of the communications box but for having the creativity to stand on top of it and dance to some infectious-in-a-good-way music.

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