Social Media and Health Mobilization During Emergencies: The Case of Lassa Fever Outbreak in Ebonyi, Nigeria

Anthony C. Ekwueme, Fidelis N. Asogwa

Abstract


Lassa fever is an existential threat to Ebonyi, one of Nigeria's 36 states, located in the southeastern region. Communication is a critical component of the integrated approach the government has adopted to combat the disease. This study examines the influence of social media in the management of the 2018 outbreak. Results from 426 respondents show that 74.47 percent received their first story on the outbreak via social media, while 72.30 percent visited social media platforms daily. Facebook was the dominant social media subscription - 87.56 percent. A significant 97.88 percent visited at least once a day. Findings also show that, after the visits, 74.08 percent took preventive actions from food infection. This figure accounts for a little more than half of the total preventive actions taken. Some 84.04 percent gave social media a pass mark for its impact, while 98.70 engaged in one form of health awareness creation or another through their social media contacts. Overall, 89.67 percent claimed that the information consumed on social media had some impact on them. One of the recommendations is that this impressive performance should be sustained.

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