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Ebola survivors to share stories via mobile app, to help fight stigma

AFRICA
By Reuters | January 5th 2015

DAKAR: Ebola survivors in the three West African countries worst hit by the epidemic will share their stories through a mobile application to be launched on Monday, in a UNICEF-backed campaign to inform and fight stigma around the disease.

The Ebola outbreak, the worst on record of the highly infectious haemorrhagic fever, has killed over 7,900 people with more than 20,000 cases recorded mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Although many people have survived the disease, they still face rejection and stigma from their communities, while the virus continues to spread due to lack of information and denial, according to the WHO and other health organisations.

The campaign called #ISurvivedEbola, is funded by U.S philanthropist and co-founder of Microsoft Paul G. Allen's foundation which has committed $100 million to fight the disease. UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency is collaborating in the project.

Survivors in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia will be given smartphones and will document their stories and exchange tips on how to cope with it for a mobile app, which will be available to the public, the backers said in a statement.

"While treatment of Ebola patients is critical, the best way to end the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is to cut the chain of transmission and prevent further infections," Rafael Obregon of UNICEF said in the statement.

"#ISurvivedEbola is reinforcing our efforts by providing this information in multiple, highly entertaining forms, including through the testimonies of actual survivors,” Obregon said.

Survivors who have agreed to contribute include Camara "Fanta" Fantaoulen in Guinea who lost six members of her family to Ebola, and Decontee Davis, a 23-year-old from Liberia who overcame Ebola but lost her fiancé.

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