Can Technology assist in the fight against Ebola? Is there enough investment in the advancement of technology, particularly for mobile devices, that is being put into winning the fight against this devastating virus?
With all the news reports about the spread of Ebola in West Africa, it comes as no surprise that TEDx Soweto had someone speaking on the issue. Meet Judy Hofmeyr, a Communications Strategist at Journey who took to the stage and talked about a revolutionary mobile application (mobile app) that they have built to aid in the fight against the Ebola virus. Journey is a company that develops mobile applications for businesses on various interfaces.
Hofmeyr talked us through the events that led to the development of the app. She, along with a team of experts in mobile technology went on a quest to answer the question; “Can a smartphone app assist in the battle against Ebola?” and their answer led to them building the Ebola Care App. That was a little over month ago and since then, history is being written.
The mobile app idea was sparked by a visit to the US where Judy Hofmeyr and her Co-Founders, Philip Joubert and Malan Joubert set off to San Francisco in an effort to increase the company’s footprint overseas. Their visit to the US led to the realisation of more than expected news reports about Ebola on one hand, and the evident complacency of the those with resources towards the virus. This spark compelled them to action and led them to establish dialogues with various non-profit organisations in an effort to ascertain the challenges and how Journey could provide assistance.
Some of the challenges included:
- Strong reliance of Field Data
- Location data is often inaccurate
- Where and when to direct their efforts
- Ebola data collection was too slow
- How to avoid or learn from mistakes
- Tracking the movement of the virus
In order to combat the virus, decision-makers needed to adopt a system where they could act fast on data that is accurate, and do so at a rate that exceeds the speed of the virus spread, in order to contain it rather play catch up. Both these challenges were proof of the importance of the Ebola Care App, which was developed to replace the slower paper-based system that community healthcare workers used to monitor patients in rural areas.
Some of the app’s prerequisites were that it had to be easy to use, quick to roll out, simple to update and it had to function in remote areas. The basic functionality of the app consists of the ability to capture data from patients who have difficulty in reaching mobile clinics. It had to be able capture and record the measurements of patients’ vital signs, distribution of medication and the scheduling of follow up visits. It is well-suited for the African context where infrastructure and funds tend to be minimal.
Today, the Ebola Care App is making strides in helping to map the virus and to increase Africa in understanding both the spread and where the needs are.
Have you found any interesting technologies that improve lives in Africa? Tweet us on: @OrnicoMedia. We’d love to hear what you found.
“Picture by: Tyler Howarth on Flickr
By Mbuluma Silumbwe, Social Media Analyst and Creative Strategist at OrnicoGroup
Tweet Mbuluma here: @Silumbwe”