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Using animation to battle Ebola

 

United Methodist Communications
Office of Public Information
810 12th Ave. South
Nashville, TN 37203

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 13, 2014

Nashville, Tenn.: Nashville-based United Methodist Communications collaborated with Chocolate Moose Media and iHeed to create an animated video for use in West Africa that helps dispel myths about how Ebola is spread and promotes prevention of the disease. The video can be viewed and downloaded free at ebolavideo.org.

“Our goal is to provide education that leads to better understanding of the disease and how to prevent infections,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “Ebola gains its foothold in poor communities where mistrust, resistance to proper care and lack of understanding of the virus and how it is transmitted is widespread. The church’s advantage lies in its grassroots network of trusted clergy and leaders who live in the affected regions.”

United Methodist Communications, the global communications agency of The United Methodist Church, is using a variety of approaches to help educate people in Ebola-affected areas about prevention, diagnosis and treatment of the disease, including providing text messages to clergy in Sierra Leone and Liberia, where nearly 70 percent of the population owns cell phones. Commentaries on television, radio and in print by trusted leaders are helping to correct misinformation and encourage cooperation with health programs to halt the spread of the disease.

The agency provided partial funding for Chocolate Moose Media to create the video, which will be produced in various languages. The executive producer of the video is iHeed, a mobile-health-education innovator.

"I have created what I hope will be a compelling and effective video to prevent the further spread of Ebola in West Africa and beyond,” said Chocolate Moose Media founder and award-winning director Firdaus Kharas. “My approach is to combine animation with non-coercive persuasion by having Africans speak to their own broader family within their countries.

“All I'm doing is helping Africans give voice to themselves. Far too many tragedies have befallen that great continent, far too many Africans have died from preventable diseases, including Ebola. Not one more African should die."

Primarily accessed through download for local playback, all partners will use their various networks and channels to distribute the video widely in order to reach as many people as possible. Distribution channels include many international organizations, non-governmental organizations, civil society and churches and through social media using the hashtag #Ebolavideo.

"Through a combination of weak health infrastructure, lack of awareness and inconsistent levels of education and an unfortunate level of unpreparedness, this epidemic has become a global threat,” said Dr. Kunal D. Patel, medical director of iHeed. “Digital media and animation can help fill the awareness and educational gaps in regards to the Ebola epidemic. In combination with technologies such as mobile phones, mobile cinemas, projectors and tablets, animated information can rapidly help counter the spread of Ebola."

The United Methodist Church is also responding to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa in a number of other ways, including treatment and prevention. The response is a joint effort by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, West African United Methodist church leaders and regional health boards, denominational health facilities, and others. For more information, visit umc.org/ebola.

Rev. Hollon said that United Methodist Communications is increasing its focus on using communications technology for humanitarian aid. “Lack of communications capacity has exacerbated this crisis. Those concerned with humanitarian assistance to people in crisis situations must be at the forefront of this new era of technology,” said Hollon.

According to the World Health Organization, 7,470 cases of Ebola had reported as of Oct. 3, with 3,431 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ebola is transmitted to humans from wild animals and spreads through person-to-person transmission. Contact with the body of a deceased person can also play a role in the transmission of Ebola. According to the World Health Organization, raising awareness of risk factors for Ebola infection and protective measures that individuals can take is an effective way to reduce human transmission.

About United Methodist Communications 
As the communications agency for The United Methodist Church, United Methodist Communications seeks to increase awareness and visibility of the denomination in communities and nations around the globe. United Methodist Communications also offers services, tools, products and resources for communications ministry.

About Chocolate Moose Media 
Chocolate Moose Media produces animation, documentaries, films and television series designed to educate, entertain, and change societal and individual behavior via a process called Culture Shift, with a goal of positively influencing viewers’ knowledge, attitude and behavior in order to better the human condition. Further information can be found at http://www.chocmoose.com

About iHeed 
iHeed is an Irish Social Enterprise, dedicated to innovation in global health worker training by producing next-generation digital animated training content, and developing new blended training programs for health workers using mobile technology.

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Media contact:
Natalie Bannon
nbannon@umcom.org
(615) 742-5413