Article

Internet: A Game Changer In The Fight Against Ebola

    Author:
  • Michael Redante
  • January 16, 2015
Internet: A Game Changer In The Fight Ag

ET Cluster's job is to provide Internet and radio communications services to aid workers in emergencies. This brings us to an ETU in N’zerekore, Guinea, that used to have no internet connectivity, and now it does. 

WFP constructed this ETU managed by the NGO named ALIMA where the ET Cluster provided Internet connectivity. Here’s a 1 minute tour of what daily life is like inside the ETU:

Messages of support to forget the daily racking scenes

Working everyday in an ETU is mentally draining for even the most experienced health workers. How do you cope with the sight of so many lifeless bodies on a daily basis? We are all human and sometimes we need to distract ourselves.

Sitting with a group of health workers on their lunch break this became clear to me; they complained about the referee’s call during the latest football match or listened to their favorite Nicki Minaj song, life must go on. To help ease their minds in the simplest means possible we invited our Facebook and Twitter communities to send messages of support and motivation. We then posted these around the ETU.

 

Hospital offline

Christine, a doctor here from the USA, explained that “here we were essentially running a hospital with lots of employees, sick patients, a laboratory, and all this without Internet. Imagine running a hospital without Internet, it would be chaos.”  

Guillame, Director of development and communication, had to drive 3 km every day from the ETU to town so that he could send status of patients to his colleagues in Conakry.

The ET Cluster is helping to resolve this situation across the region so that ETUs can offer the high standards of care needed to save the lives of Ebola victims.

The ETU’s admin room was filled with stacks of papers and sticky notes which lined the walls. All that could be easily organized with simple Internet tools like Dropbox, Google docs, and email accessible through connectivity provided by the ET Cluster.

Health workers in the “red zone” – where Ebola patients are cordoned off from the rest of the camps – had to yell to their colleagues in the “green zone” to ask for supplies and provide updates on patient statuses. In an environment where miscommunication can mean the difference between life and death, bringing in these vital services can reduce fatal errors.

ET Cluster, together with our members NetHopeEricsson Response, and Emergency.lu  have provided both staff and equipment and installed the Internet network that helps health workers do their jobs and save lives.

Higher connectivity =  Reduction of the spread of Ebola

When I came back to see Christine a few days later, I asked, “At the end of the day is the connectivity helping you guys do your job?” She responded “Yes, of course, of course it is, it’s helping us reduce the spread of Ebola”

 

“A patient had fully recovered. There is no better feeling on Earth!”

There was an air of euphoria that day, and I asked Christine what the commotion was about: one of the patients had fully recovered. “There is no better feeling on Earth,” Christine told me.

This is what we are here to do. We're on a mission to stop Ebola and the ET Cluster will do whatever it takes to provide humanitarians, health workers, and the Ebola responders with communications services to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

The ET Cluster is a service provider but we also solve complex problems in which no two are ever the same. This requires not only ingenuity, creativity, and close collaboration from our network, but also a whole lot of heart.


This post was republished from the World Food Programme's blog as part of NetHope's effort to facilitate collaborative learning and community knowledge-sharing. Please click here to read the article in its original form and view supporting data. We are always looking for relevant and thought-provoking ICT-related posts to republish. We value your suggestions; if you'd like to recommend a post, please email our Editor-in-Chief Paige Dearing at paige.dearing@nethope.org.

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