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Ebola in West Africa

Project Problem

In 2014, World Health Organization reported an outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, particularly focussed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. As these are nations that are among the least developed in the world and are struggling to recover from conflicts, this activation aligned well with the PeaceGeeks mandate, as a health concern would exacerbate these already existing concerns.

How We Helped

The Digital Humanitarian Network (DHN) was activated by  Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) UK and The British Red Cross (BRC), with the Standby Task Force (SBTF) as the coordinating body, to support information management during the ongoing Ebola crisis. Although there are many organizations involved in aiding in the Ebola crisis, this project is one of the few which are focussing their efforts directly on data management and collecting information that will go on to assist in the work that other organizations are carrying out on the ground. A team of 4 PeaceGeeks members were quickly assembled to support the SBTF in this activation.

The primary purpose of this exercise was to create reliable data sets of medical facilities to enable first responders to make informed decisions about the delivery of patients to the most appropriate facility, based on location and whether or not they were known or suspected to be affected by the ebola virus.

The focus was on the following key areas of support:

  • Create one comprehensive Health Facilities Database from all available sources
  • Scan documents/websites to extract facility locations and geolocate facilities to nearest location
  • Filling in missing information about health facilities (What is the name of the facility at this location? Is it currently open? Are they accepting infected patients?  Are they in need of any supplies? Is there contact information for the facility?)
  • Verify database information from reliable sources, including aid workers on the ground in West Africa

Maps Produced During Activation:

This map produced by the Standby Task Force depicts a summary of the information collected during the project. Here is a summary of the outstanding work complete dby the digital humanitarian community for this emergency. 

Activation Results

The activation was successful in creating the most comprehensive health care facility dataset for the Ebola response in the affected countries. Local responders, in Conakry, Guinea for example, report that three clinics can verified per day in person, given the restrictions posed by the current transportation networks and limited maps of the area.

This database became an invaluable resource for numerous organizations, including the World Health Organization, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) UK, and The British Red Cross (BRC), for mobilizing response teams on the ground in the affected countries. 

PeaceTalk #28: Digital Humanitariansim

Guest Speaker:
Roxanne Moore, Digital Humanitarians Network (Ebola Response Coordinator), Christopher Libby, BC Red Cross Society, Chad Pacholik, Province of BC
Oct 7, 2015
6:00 - 7:30PM
HiVE Vancouver

In the digital age, disaster response has never been as swift or sophisticated. While technology and 'innovation' has created new and interesting opportunities with respect to disaster preparedness and response, such as the introduction of 'digital humanitarians', it has also created new and complex challenges around information security and reliability.

Join PeaceGeeks and Amnesty International at the HiVE Vancouver on Wednesday October 7th to learn more about disaster response, management, and preparedness. Our speakers will include:

  • Roxanne Moore, from the Digital Humanitarians Network, who coordinated digital response efforts during the ebola crisis in 2014-2015
  • Christopher Libby, from the BC Red Cross Society, who works to engage local volunteers in internal response efforts
  • Chad Pacholilk, from the Government of BC,  who works on response and planning for disaseter in BC 
Thank You To:
Sep 23, 2015
Category: PeaceTalks
Time 2:
6 PM

PeaceTalk #22: Ebola: Their Problem or Ours?

Guest Speaker:
Dr. Michael Rekart, Ian MacKay, Dr. Mark Tyndall, Kent Bubbs Jr.
Nov 5, 2014
6:00 - 7:30PM
HiVE Vancouver

With a rising death toll of 3,800+ and over 8,000 suspected cases, the Ebola epidemic spreading in West Africa is the worst in history. With an incubation period of up to 21 days and more unknown and undiagnosed cases to count; who’s problem is this, how did we get to where we are, and where do we go now?
Join BCCIC, PeaceGeeks, and an exciting panel on November 5th to learn about this issue, ask questions, and join the discussion on this burning global issue. Questions we will discuss include:

  • What could an international response look like? What is Canada’s ideal role moving forward?
  • Who should be involved and how? What needs to be done moving forward?
  • What factors contributed to the Ebola outbreak and what can we expect the lasting impact to be on those areas affected?

Speaker Biographies

Dr. Michael Rekart is a Clinical Professor of Global Health at the UBC School of Population and Public Health.  From 1985 to 2010, he was the Director of the STI/HIV Prevention and Control Program for British Columbia. For two and a half decades, Dr. Rekart led BC's public health response to sequential HIV outbreaks in gay men, injection drug users and heterosexuals, as well as the public health effort to control North America’s largest outbreak of heterosexual syphilis. In May 2014, Dr. Rekart returned from a 1 year mission for Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF - Doctors Without Borders) in Swaziland, Africa, and he is preparing to embark on another MSF mission to Sierra Leone in December 2014 where he will work on Ebola.

Ian MacKay is a Nursing student, from Squamish BC, attending school at Douglas College, and a volunteer with the Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia. In 2012 he founded The Peace Life Project Foundation, a non-profit humanitarian foundation providing education and basic health care to children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition, he has provided humanitarian relief in Haiti, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines and more recently Liberia. Ian spent his summer as a first responder to the Ebola crisis in Liberia. He strives to continue to advocate and educate on the global Ebola crisis. Ian’s passion for helping others extends to the ski hill, where for the past four years he has volunteered as a ski patroller at Whistler Blackcomb.

Dr. Mark Tyndall is a Director at the UBC Centre for Disease Control. Dr. Tyndall obtained his MD and FRCPC in Internal Medicine from McMaster University and completed an Infectious Diseases Fellowship at the University of Manitoba. He received a Doctoral degree in Epidemiology from Harvard University with a focus on health and human rights. He has lived and worked in Nairobi, Kenya on HIV transmission as part of a WHO collaborative project. For over a decade, he has led community-based research projects with a focus on HIV, poverty and drug use in Vancouver and Ottawa. Dr. Tyndall is an author on more than 200 academic papers and has been a strong advocate for evidenced-based public health policy. He has received several academic honours during the course of his career, including a Michael Smith Foundation Senior Scientist award, and the Distinguished Medical Research Lecturer Award and Master Teacher Award from the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Kent Bubbs Jr. is a trustee of the Universal Outreach Foundation. He is a native to the Sea to Sky and got seriously involved with Universal Outreach Foundation (UOF) 8 years ago. He and his wife Landis live full time in Liberia and focus on 3 sectors: Water and Sanitation; Education and; Economic Development. Presently they are refocusing on the fight against Ebola with the development of a campaign called “Beat Ebola Now”. This is a community level program that brings information and sanitation techniques relevant to Ebola into the communities.

Moderator Biography

Michael Simpson is the Executive Director of BCCIC. Michael Simpson recently undertook the role of Executive Director with BCCIC after fourteen years working with a Canadian NGO in Africa, Latin America and South America. He has worked in Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and visited Guinea as well as other West African countries. Formerly a documentary film  producer, Simpson has a wealth of experience on the ground in the developing world working on a wide range of issues from human rights to environmental and social sustainability with an emphasis on post-
conflict development.

Event Video:
Thank You To:
Partnership With:
Oct 15, 2014
Category: PeaceTalks
Time 2:
6 PM
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