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.
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.
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.