Mobile Phones & Ebola: Preventing Disease Outbreaks with Information


When I first heard about Ebola, I didn’t
believe it at all. A mysterious disease from the heart of the
jungle. We were in a war with and invisible enemy. Fighting a serious battle that was very scary. I was alone at the clinic with limited communication. I was so afraid. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to protect myself. But I had to fight this battle. During the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak, over
10,000 people in Liberia lost their lives. Many could have been saved if they had access
to the right tools and resources. The Ebola outbreak in Liberia highlighted
severe weaknesses in the health system. The Ministry of Health had no means of communicating
vital information to all health workers across the country at the same time. USAID and UNICEF teamed up to create a communication
channel to health workers from inside the Ministry of Health. It pulls the data from different open source
systems into one platform. This integration enables the system to provide
real time data so that policy makers can make informed choices and frontline healthcare
workers can be armed with timely information to make vital decisions. It doesn’t require a sophisticated device. Healthcare workers receive this information
through their mobile phone. Because the technology is dynamic it can be
adapted to the needs of the health system. It can be used to check on supplies in health
facilities, to verify if health workers received their pay on time, and to alert the health
system of potential outbreaks. The possibilities are unlimited. Now, I’m connected with healthcare workers
across the country. Investments in technology can stop the next
outbreak before it starts and save countless lives.

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