In the wake of the outbreak of cholera in Haiti, PSI is responding to the emergency through a comprehensive communications campaign, supported by funding from USAID and KFW. The approach is to use every available mass media communications channel to reach people with simple, consistent messages developed with the Ministry of Health. The consistency of the messaging is key to help calm a potential panic situation, guard against confusion and ensure that people have the right information to protect themselves. Rumors can circulate quickly in such situations, so it is very important that correct information reaches people across different media.
PSI/Haiti is airing radio spots on radio stations nationwide. The timeslots had been held with radio stations for existing programs which have been swapped out quickly for new messages about cholera prevention. The spots are in Creole and were created jointly with Haiti’s Ministry of Health. Members of PSI/Haiti have also appeared on nightly news programs on national television and radio with representatives from the Ministry of Health to discuss cholera prevention and demonstrate correct preparation of life-saving oral rehydration formula. A social media component has been incorporate as well, through a partnership with Digicel to send out SMS text messages, and Digicel has set up a hotline that offers more detailed information about cholera prevention.
A PSI/Haiti mobile cinema team is traveling in the Artibonite Department, engaging in mobile screenings of a film about prevention and treatment of diarrheal disease that was recently completed as a joint production with the Jacmel Cine Institute. The 30-minute narrative film is called “Samy” and will be played on national television and has been provided to partner organizations so that they can also play it as widely as possible.
The level of coordination across media and across partners – private sector, NGO, the donor community and Ministry of Health – has made all of the above possible. Due to the level of engagement and support from all sectors, PSI/Haiti has been able to leverage their existing communications network and media relationships to create a rapid response channel to get consistent messages out quickly and efficiently.
In addition to the work of the PSI/Haiti team, PSI/Dominican Republic is aiding relief efforts in Haiti by donating more than 1.8 million sachets of Procter & Gamble’s PUR water purifier. UPS provided free shipping of the sachets to Haiti for use by Partners in Health in the Artibonite Province, where they are already being used to treat water for drinking. The effort came together at the request of Paul Farmer and the Clinton Foundation. At the request of USAID-Haiti, P&G and PSI/DR have donated an additional 250,000 sachets due on the ground shortly.
Read more about the response at Fast Company.