Mobile platform aims to aid healthcare workers involved in Ebola response

The World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF and a North Carolina nonprofit are prepping a mobile communications platform to spur faster and more accurate data sharing among health workers on the front lines of the Ebola battle in Liberia, West Africa, according to a report at Politico.

The database system, called eHero, will house contact information, such as cell phone numbers, for 5,000 healthcare workers and was designed by IntraHealth, based in North Carolina. It is expected to go live by the end of October.

"We now have technology that's going to overcome the barriers presented by the infection and the collapse of their healthcare system, to get good information to health workers and turn them into the great asset their country really needs," Dykki Settle, director of health workforce informatics at IntraHealth, told Politico.

Healthcare officials report that weak communications between federal health officials and those battling the disease is hindering a best effort response. WHO reports that 6,500 people are infected with Ebola and more than 3,000 have died. The goal of the technology is to help mobile communications so workers can provide updates on needed supplies and equipment. The platform will provide SMS and other text messaging capabilities

"Getting all the tools to the right places and building capacity to use them is what we're doing right now," Garrett Mehl, a WHO mHealth specialist, told Politico.

Technology will continue to have a greater role as the disease spreads. Steve VanRoekel recently left the White House administration to head up the U.S. Agency for International Development's technology efforts in fighting Ebola. VanRoekel, in a statement about the move, said that while technology "is not the solution" to stopping Ebola, "it will be part of the solution."

In addition, mobile communications technology is increasingly being tapped to help various demographic populations in Africa where mobile systems are lacking. As FierceMobileHealthcare reported in July, Groupe Speciale Mobile Association's Mobile for Development mHealth program is driving a cross-ecosystem partnership to offer mHealth services with a focus on nutrition to 15.5 million pregnant women, mothers and children under the age of 5 in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

To learn more:
- read the Politico article

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