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Religious Leaders in Ghana Unite Against Ebola Virus Disease
Unified in their declaration, religious leaders from across Ghana convened on Wednesday to respond to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The congregation of religious heads and faith-based organization representatives crafted a religious edict on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) to be circulated throughout churches, mosques, and religious gatherings in Ghana.
This event brought together the Christian Council of Ghana and the Ghana Federation of Muslim Council for discussions regarding the origins of the Ebola virus, how it is transmitted, and proper health measures to quickly identify and reduce the potential spread of the disease. Although there are no reported cases of EVD in the country currently, it is still a significant public health concern as other West African countries have recorded over 13,000 cases since March 2014.
Religious leaders meeting at the La Palm Royal Beach Hotel in Accra
"You can help raise awareness and promote safe behaviours and practices in our societies…churches, mosques, shrines and others. You can bring out the facts and truth about the disease; promote solidarity, social cohesion, compassion, and humanity; you can help mobilize resources, promote access to services for Ebola and as well help create supportive environments." This was the impassioned advice from Ghana Health Service's Dr. Badu Sarkodie, Director of Public Health, to the assembled religious leaders.
The event, convened by the USAID/Ghana Systems for Health Project, was held in partnership with the Ghana Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS). USAID/Ghana Systems for Health Project, led by University Research Co., LLC, is partnering with the MOH/GHS to strengthen Ghana's preparedness for Ebola as well as to strengthen infection prevention and control measures.
This gathering of religious leaders emphasized how vital it is for citizens of Ghana to be informed with accurate and factual information regarding the disease. Recognizing that religious gatherings are crucial channels for disseminating information, the leaders created the edict to communicate accurate information about Ebola and mobilize communities of faith to increase healthy behaviours, especially hand washing and other hygiene behaviours, to prevent potential spread of the disease.
After extensive discussions, religious leaders released an edict to be read nationwide during religious services, meetings and gatherings. In addition, religious institutions pledged their resources to increase information and education about hygiene and healthy behaviours and, with a unified voice, to build Ghana's greatest defence against the disease, a knowledgeable population.
November 19, 2014