Engaging the Target Audience
The proposed public health campaign aims to stop the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. The target audience is Sierra Leone citizens. There is no demographic distinction of this population because the disease could affect anybody in the country. Sensitizing everybody about how to prevent new infections and manage existing ones are useful strategies for improving the welfare of everyone in the country. The target audience is broad in this regard.
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How to Involve the Target Audience in the Public Health Campaign
Engaging the target audience is part of the communication strategy for the public health campaign. Key factors that would affect the strategy include the demographic composition of the target audience, previous strategies used to engage the target audience, and the views of opinion leaders within the community (Glanz, Rimer, &Viswanath, 2008). The proposed public health campaign would have only three engagement strategies – social media engagement, media engagement, and direct engagement with public health officials. Since the health campaign targets people from all cadres of society, social media would be a good platform to generate interest in the public health campaign (Glanz et al., 2008). Public health officials would also use media to engage the audience. Particularly, we will pay attention to radio as the main mode of communication in this regard. Lastly, the public health campaign would use volunteers (direct interaction) to reach rural populations. This strategy would help to bridge the communication gap that stems from the inadequacy of the country’s health system to reach rural populations through social media or direct interaction with health workers.
How to promote Public Relations with the Target Audience
Social Marketing – Social marketing aims to promote a social idea, or concept, within one demographic group (Glanz et al., 2008). In public health campaigns, social marketing involves the use of marketing and technology tools to shape people’s health behaviors. Public health officials do not use social marketing tools to change people’s health behaviors only, but also foster a healthy community (Glanz et al., 2008). Engaging the target audience is a pragmatic approach of this public health campaign because it integrates the prevailing social, political, and economic dynamics during public health formulation processes (Parker & Thorson, 2009). Moreover, it is able to integrate theory and practice by including various health models and theories in health promotion.
Monitoring: The monitoring process would occur after the end of the public health campaign. Using this strategy, public health officials should answer questions that the target audience could have about proposed public health interventions. This strategy would also contribute to an effective health monitoring process (Parker & Thorson, 2009).
Behavior Changes I Hope to support among the Target Audience and their Potential Benefits
Controlling the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone does not only depend on the success of hospital-based interventions; health workers have to reach local communities and educate them about the causes of the disease, to prevent them from contracting it in the first place. However, factors that stem from retrogressive community practices and cultural factors could impede their efforts. Based on this fact, this paper strives to support positive behavior changes to manage Ebola. The following desired behavior changes would help to meet this goal
Disapproving Conspiracy Theories: Conspiracy theories about the origin of Ebola have inhibited efforts by public health workers to stop the spread of the disease (Mans, 2014). For example, some Sierra Leone communities refused to acknowledge that the disease exists. They believed proposed health interventions were a western plot to invade their privacy and conduct laboratory experiments on Africans. This is why some communities rejected some proposed health interventions and chased or killed health workers (Mans, 2014). When such incidences are rampant, it is difficult for the same health workers to manage Ebola. The proposed public health program seeks to end such conspiracy theories and create a better work environment for public health workers.
Altering Social Practices: New Ebola infections in Sierra Leone partly stemmed from contact with corpses of people who have died from the disease (Mans, 2014). Public health officials have strived to educate people about the dangers of upholding such risky health behaviors (as part of traditional burial practice). The proposed public health campaign would emphasize this point as part of a wider ploy to change social practices that undermine Ebola management strategies.
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Potential stakeholders for the proposed public health campaign consist of people, or groups, that have an interest in the Ebola fight. Stakeholders are important in promoting positive behavior change. This paper identifies four important stakeholder groups in the Ebola management program.
Community: Public health workers should involve local communities in the Ebola campaign because this stakeholder group is instrumental in communicating culturally sensitive information about disease prevention (Mans, 2014).
National Government: The Sierra Leone government is possibly among the most important stakeholder groups in the Ebola campaign because it should give health services to its citizens
Nongovernmental Organizations – NGOs are significant stakeholders in the Ebola campaign because they should improve the welfare of residents of Sierra Leone. However, this responsibility applies to NGOs that work in the health sector.
International Organizations – International organizations often operate globally. In the health sector, these organizations include the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labor Organization (ILO). The World Bank and the United Nations Commission for Africa are other organizations that may have an interest in the proposed health campaign.
How the Stakeholders Would Impact the Planning, or Implementation, Process
Community: Local communities could be effective partners in the Ebola fight because they have experienced the disease first-hand and could stop new infections when they happen. Although Ebola does not have a cure, communities could help to stop its cause by promoting positive behaviors among its members.
National Government: The Sierra Leone government, through its agencies, controls the health infrastructure of the country and has the logistical capabilities of seeking international help and simplifying the bureaucratic processes required of international volunteers who wish to give additional workforce, or drugs, to control the pandemic. The government could also help to disseminate health messages to the community because they have national data about different jurisdictions and could give valuable information about the type of communication strategies that health workers could use.
NGOs: NGOs could play advocacy and developmental roles when promoting the goals of the proposed health campaign. This way, they would disseminate good health practices among residents of Sierra Leone.
International Organizations: International organizations, such as the WHO, could encourage the development of health programs. They could contribute to the proposed campaign through research, advocacy and capacity building (Vaughan & Tinker, 2009). They could also invest in pilot programs and disseminate good health practices among residents of Sierra Leone.
Barriers of Accessing the Target Audience
Poor Health Infrastructure: The poor state of health infrastructure in Sierra Leone has partly contributed to the high rates of Ebola infection in the country. This challenge could also limit access to the target audience because without a proper health infrastructure, it would be difficult for health workers to reach vulnerable populations.
Media: The inadequate access to media platforms in some of the rural communities of Sierra Leone could limit access to the target audience. For example, the lack of television sets and radios in some rural communities of the West African country could make it difficult for health workers to communicate with such populations.
How to Address the Barriers and Challenges to Accessing the Target Audience
Using alternative health agencies (besides national health agencies) to reach medically underserved populations could help to overcome health challenges that stem from poor health infrastructure. For example, using local NGOs to disseminate health messages (instead of government agencies) could help to reach medically underserved populations. Using alternative communication platforms, such as using community leaders to reach rural populations, could also help to overcome media inadequacies in Sierra Leone. This is one benefit of involving all stakeholders in the public health campaign.
Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., &Viswanath, K. (Eds). (2008). Health behavior and healtheducation: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
Mans, D. (2014). Behavior Change Is Key to the Eradication of Ebola. Web.
Parker, J. C., & Thorson, E. (Eds.). (2009). Health communication in the new media landscape. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.
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Vaughan, E., & Tinker, T. (2009). Effective health risk communication about pandemic influenza for vulnerable populations. American Journal of Public Health, 99(1), 324-32.
How I Plan to Implement the Public Health Campaign
The proposed public health campaign would consist of three main steps. The first step involves evaluating the logistical requirements for the campaign and outlining their roles in the public health campaign. This process would only take one month. The second step involves identifying partners to support the public health campaign and assigning them different roles in the public health campaign. This process would take two months because it could be difficult to reach some of the potential stakeholders. The third step would outline the implementation and monitoring processes for the public health campaign. It should take three months. The following table explains the timeline for the public health campaign.
|Evaluation of Logistics||Seeking partnerships||Implementation and Monitoring Processes|
Description of Public Health Campaign and its effects on Behavioral Change
Sierra Leone’s health problems in the Ebola fight stem from the failures of the health system to overcome some cultural practices that promote the spread of the disease (Mans, 2014). The proposed public health strategy would promote the use of modern health interventions to prevent the spread of the disease. To meet this goal, the public health plan would increase partnerships between public and private entities to expand the access of public health officials to vulnerable populations. Furthermore, since there are ongoing efforts to control the spread of the disease, the proposed public health campaign would support ongoing stakeholder support through broad-based coalitions. The campaign would also affect behavioral change by educating people about the dangers of continuing to practice risky health behaviors, such as eating bush meat and hugging people who have died from Ebola.
How the Target Audience would adopt the Public Health Campaign
Some people perceive Ebola with a lot of fear and paranoia. This paper has also demonstrated how conspiracy theories could create mistrust between people and authorities. The proposed health campaign aims to diffuse some of these challenges by educating people about the epistemology of the disease. This way, they would be educated about its occurrence, prevention, and management. By understanding this information, they would help to spread the same information to other people and create more awareness about how to prevent its spread (Pittman, 2010).
How to Incorporate culturally relevant and Sensitive material to the Campaign
This paper has already highlighted the importance of incorporating culturally relevant and sensitive material to the proposed public health plan. To do so, community leaders will be part of the design committee. They would give valuable information about the exclusion and inclusion criteria for communicating culturally sensitive materials. Secondly, the proposed study would use previous health materials as a template for determining what would appeal to the local population and what would not appeal to the same group.
Legal and Ethical Issues to Consider before Implementing the Campaign
An effective public health campaign should map the legal and ethical issues that characterize a population (Coughlin, 2006). Ethical concerns in public health surveillance, emergency responses and program evaluation are some of the legal and ethical issues that would appear in the proposed public health campaign. For example, public health officials should evaluate the possible benefits of public health surveillance against the risks of the same intervention on the residents of Sierra Leone (Zoellner et al., 2011). Public health surveillance could also be an ethical concern if it infringes on the privacy and confidentiality rights of the citizens. Collectively, these are the ethical and legal issues associated with implementing the public health campaign.
Strategies for Addressing the Legal and Ethical Issues
Addressing privacy and confidentiality concerns associated with public health surveillance and monitoring requires an effective strategy (Coughlin, 2006). To mitigate these challenges, health officials should not survey the citizens if they would not use the information obtained for the health campaign. In this regard, there would be no “information hoarding.” Secondly, to navigate through the legal issues that surround patient privacy, the public health campaign would adhere to all restrictive policies that protect citizen privacy and confidentiality (Wartenberg & Thompson, 2010).
How to Evaluate the Effectiveness of the Campaign
The effectiveness of the proposed health campaign depends on the achievement of the campaign goals. Introducing positive behavior change among residents of Sierra Leone was one campaign goal. By achieving this objective, safely, we could say the campaign is effective. A reduction in the number of new Ebola infections would also be a criterion for evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign. Such an outcome would symbolize an effective campaign, while a different outcome would mean that the campaign does not meet its goal.
How the Campaign could Promote Social Change
The proposed public health campaign could promote social change by educating the residents of Sierra Leone about how they could prevent new infections by changing some of their social practices. This way, they would be educated about the epistemology of the disease and oppose the propagation of conspiracy theories that have inhibited their understanding of the disease. The public health campaign could also promote social change by helping the citizens of Sierra Leone to stop practicing cultural practices that increase the risk of contracting Ebola. Public health officials would pay special attention to stop retrogressive burial practices that have increased the number of Ebola cases in the West African country. Lastly, the public health campaign would promote social change by educating rural communities about the dangers of eating bush meat (among other cultural practices that contribute to the spread of Ebola). This strategy would change people’s social and economic practices for the betterment of their health. Broadly, it would minimize the possibility of new infections after the health campaign minimizes the rate of new infections.
Coughlin, S. (2006). Ethical issues in epidemiologic research and public health practice. Emerging Themes in Epidemiology, 3(16), 1-10.
Mans, D. (2014). Behavior Change Is Key to the Eradication of Ebola. Web.
Pittman, M. A. (2010). Multisectoral Lessons from Healthy Communities. Preventing Chronic Disease, 7(6), 117.
Wartenberg, D., & Thompson, D. (2010). Privacy Versus Public Health: The Impact of Current Confidentiality Rules. Am J Public Health, 100(3), 407–412.
Zoellner, J., You, W., Connell, C., Smith-Ray, R., Allen, K., Tucker, K.,…Estabrooks, P. (2011). Health literacy is associated with health eating index scores and sugar-sweetened beverage intake: Findings from the rural lower Mississippi delta. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(7), 1012-1020.