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  • Writer's pictureCarter Darper

iLab Helping to Fight Ebola

Updated: Dec 23, 2018

Several times over the last month, we've wanted to share what iLab has been doing in the fight against Ebola, but as soon as we sit down to write something else comes up and we're again in motion. Just like our colleagues on the ground who are working to improve worsening conditions, we're short on time because there's a lot going on - here's a snapshot of what iLab and our partners are doing to help where our skills and expertise are needed:

Tech for the Emergency Dispatch Unit:

The Liberian government has established an Emergency Dispatch Unit (EDU) in Monrovia's JFK hospital, conveniently located just next door to iLab. The EDU receives citizen's calls (forwarded from a government-run Call Center), records the cases and then dispatches the appropriate team - burial team, contact tracing team, etc - to that location. With only three staff at the EDU and a lack of hardware or internet connection, iLab stepped in and provided computers, reliable internet, and five iLab volunteers who digitize the paper case forms and then map them on an Ushahidi instance for Ebola response stakeholders. Everyone from the CDC, WHO, the Liberian Ministry of Health and the Ebola National Taskforce use the password-protected Ushahidi instance to plan their operations.

Mapping the outbreak:

Thus far, these volunteers and iLab staff have digitally archived 2,900+ cases (suspected and confirmed cases as well as deaths across the country) and mapped more than 2,500. iLab has also mapped all of Liberia's health facilities and plans to update this listing with details such as which facilities are treating Ebola patients, how many are closed, supply stock-outs and other critical information.

Contact tracing and more:

iLab will soon be working with IRC and others on contact tracing - the process of identifying who has been exposed to Ebola and monitoring their health for the 21-day incubation period. iLab will be integrating technologies that make the data collection, processing and analysis of contact tracing more efficient and the information easy to share between the field and relevant Ebola stakeholders. iLab will also provide database management support to the burial teams who are currently unable to manage the task of safe and sanitary disposal as well as enumerating how many bodies are being buried in which locations.

There's a lot that iLab could be doing - more than we can actually take on with our mighty but small team and volunteers. We are eager to meet urgent needs and trying to ensure we don't duplicate the efforts of others, while looking for additional funding to address what we now know will be long-standing challenges in this fight against Ebola. As we proceed with a strong desire to help and the restraint we feel is necessary to take on what we can manage, we want to thank the wider iLab community that has offered their support freely and happily in such trying times. It is only together and with determination that we can make a difference in this unprecedented epidemic.

We will be providing more updates as new partnerships and projects get underway.

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