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Paul G. Allen and BBC Media Action Announce Media and Communication Partnership to Help Tackle Ebola

– Partnership is part of comprehensive #TackleEbola relief campaign to stop the spread of Ebola

SEATTLE, Oct. 16, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — Philanthropist Paul G. Allen today announced a partnership with BBC Media Action, the BBC’s international development organization, to improve communication and public awareness about the Ebola crisis in West Africa. The partnership will support local media, health officials and humanitarian agencies with emergency response or ‘lifeline’ communication training in high-risk countries across the region. The initiative will also produce media outputs – from discussion programs to mini-dramas – to tackle rumor and stigma and to help people take action to protect their health in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

This partnership is part of a comprehensive relief campaign through which the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation has committed $26.5 million to stop the spread of Ebola.  More information about the campaign can be found at TackleEbola.com.

Information is Aid

Raising public awareness and encouraging debate have a critical role to play in containing Ebola, which has now killed more than 4,400 people and infected more than 8,900. Lack of information and misperceptions about the virus have hindered government and humanitarian agencies’ response to the crisis, with the virus spreading to two continents, four countries and threatening many more.

“We are in the midst of an international public health emergency, which has already impacted an entire region and is threatening to impact the entire globe,” said Mr. Allen. “Effective communication is essential in containing this epidemic. This partnership is vital for building a source of credible information to raise public awareness and encourage safe health behavior in West Africa. While public awareness is a cornerstone to containing this virus, it will take a coordinated global effort by all types of organizations and people to truly stop this outbreak.”

“Media can be used to reach even the most isolated communities with crucial, life-saving information,” said Caroline Nursey, Executive Director of BBC Media Action. “Since May this year, we have been working with local radio stations and authorities to tackle misinformation and stigma across Sierra Leone, to provide timely, reliable information and to help people raise their concerns about the crisis. This partnership provides a huge opportunity to meet an urgent and growing need to work more widely throughout West Africa –both to bolster preparedness and improve emergency response.”

Extending a lifeline

BBC Media Action is part of the larger BBC family of communications services for global audiences. The partnership will support training workshops and humanitarian programming around Ebola in affected and at-risk countries in West Africa, including:

  • Lifeline communication workshops – Workshops will be hosted in at-risk countries across West Africa to help better prepare humanitarian responders, local and national media and government officials to communicate to a population threatened with infection.
  • Public Service Announcements and mini-dramas – The partnership will support the broadcast of BBC World Service Public Service Announcements (PSA) that share key factual messages on the disease. BBC Media Action will also produce mini-dramas to engage listeners through storytelling and inspire and inform safer decisions.
  • Weekly Ebola discussion programming for Liberia – This broadcast program will provide listeners with a platform where they can voice their needs, share experiences and propose their solutions. It will follow the same format as BBC Media Action’s program in Sierra Leone – Kick Ebola na Salone (Kick Ebola out of Sierra Leone).

To date, Mr. Allen has committed $26.5 million to support Ebola relief efforts via the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation as part of the #TackleEbola campaign, including the following contributions:

  • Partnerships with Medical Teams International (MTI) and Doctors Without Borders/Medecins Sans Frontieres to provide essential services, facilities and infrastructure for on-the-ground health providers working to contain the virus.
  • A partnership with UNICEF and UPS to airlift 50,000 protection kits into Liberia.
  • A partnership with Airlink to execute an air bridge to deliver critically needed medical protective gear and pharmaceuticals.
  • A grant to the CDC Foundation to establish emergency operations centers in the most-affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These centers will help to develop a systematic response with improved data management and communication systems for disease and patient contact tracing, which will ultimately help to detect and stop the disease from spreading.
  • A contribution to the American Red Cross to fund equipment, volunteers and educational materials in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
  • A matching grant to Global Giving, which more than 700 donors doubled in only four days. Ten groups received funding to distribute sanitation supplies, conduct training sessions and produce public service announcements.

#TackleEbola also aims to raise awareness of the epidemic among the general public and provide a clear platform through which individuals can learn, donate and participate. For more information, visit www.tackleebola.com and follow #TackleEbola on Twitter or Facebook.

About Paul G. Allen
Paul G. Allen is a leading investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist who has given more than $1.5 billion to charitable causes over his lifetime. He founded Vulcan Inc. in 1986 with Jody Allen to oversee his business and philanthropic activities. Today, that Seattle-based company oversees a wide range of Allen’s investments and projects throughout the world. In 2003, he created the Allen Institute for Brain Science to accelerate understanding of the human brain in health and disease and, a decade later, launched the expansion of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence to explore opportunities for development in the field of AI. He is the co-founder of The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, which has awarded more than $475 million to nonprofits in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Through his foundation and direct gifts, Allen has given about $10 million since 2008 to support key research, education and technology initiatives across Africa. For more information, go to www.paulallen.com, www.pgafamilyfoundation.org and www.vulcan.com.

About BBC Media Action

BBC Media Action is the BBC’s international development organization and uses media and communication to help reduce poverty and support people in understanding their rights. Its aim is to inform, connect and empower people around the world. BBC Media Action reaches some 200 million people through local broadcast partners, BBC channels (especially the BBC World Service), online, mobile and print platforms and through interpersonal communication. For more information visit www.bbcmediaaction.org.

FOR MEDIA INQUIRIES:
Alexa Rudin
AlexaR@vulcan.com
+1 206.342.2230