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UNDP ENGAGES BIKE RIDERS IN FIGHTING EBOLA
Commercial bike riders have started an intensive awareness raising camping that seeks to reach between 150,000 and 200,000 people over a two month period in Freetown after receiving training from the UN Development Programe (UNDP) last week in Freetown.
The commercial motor-bike riders (also known as Okada riders0 are now engaging passengers and other vulnerable groups with Ebola prevention messages as well as positive messages of the survival rate of Ebola patients who have sought early medical help. These messages will help reduce the number of people who are hiding suspected cases of close family members.
UNDP Sierra Leone’s Adviser on Ebola response, Lionel Laurnes said that the organization has heightened its direct response to the Ebola epidemic by targeting specific vulnerable groups and communities including people with disabilities, motorbike taxi riders and people living in slum areas.
Lionel Laurens Said ‘’UNDP is contributing to national Ebola sensitization efforts, with a specific focus on vulnerable and excluded people and excluded people and communities. Okada riders were identified as a particularly vulnerable group, because of the large number of people that they come in touch with on a daily basis.’’
He added that although Okada riders have already been targeted before for extensive sensitization ‘’Okada riders are not consistently applying safety measures. Messaging needs to be more customized to the targeted group. UNDP therefore enters into a dialogue to identify specific concerns and measures that are practical.
There are between 50, 000 and 80,000 Okada riders in Freetown alone who provide a major means of transportation for ordinary citizens. Thorough UNDP support, an initial group of 25 riders received training on Ebola, focusing on specific messaging aiming to address the fear and myths that are fuelling new cases and driving infected people underground. The training focused on the disease, how the disease is and is not transmitted and how drivers can protect themselves form the disease. This first training will be followed by series of other trainings that aim to cover the entire city and then the country.
Emmanuel Kallon, Chairman of the Spur Loop Okada Union a neighborhood in the Western part of Freetown said he has about 200 members in his location who are now actively helping to