One year ago, Guinea reported its last case of Ebola. After the 42-day monitoring period, there was a collective sigh of relief. International health experts packed their bags to go home.
On day 50, a new Ebola case was discovered. Since then, Ebola has continued to be unpredictable and devastating. Despite tremendous progress, there remain persistent obstacles reaching zero cases.
To finally overcome this 21st century challenge, we need 21st century solutions. These should leverage cutting-edge technology and ideas and be appropriate and applicable for the reality on the ground. By developing and deploying such products and applications, we can stop this epidemic, strengthen health systems in West Africa and prevent future outbreaks.
So, what is the anatomy of a 21st century solution to solve a 21st century problem? One critical element is partnership — particularly public-private partnerships. Ebola is a case study into the value of partnership. I have been especially excited by the ideas emerging from nontraditional fields to tackle this disease.
For example, at the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation we’re using our expertise in aerospace to partner with the U.S. State Department to develop a better Medevac solution. Medical personal have feared working with Ebola patients in West Africa because no reliable evacuation exists. To help solve this problem, special units were designed to be placed in aircraft jets, so the U.S. State Department can safely evacuate medical professionals from the field.
Additionally, on April 21, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation hosted the Ebola Innovation Summit, alongside the Skoll Global Threats Fund and USAID. The Summit inspired tangible action to address some of the most vexing gaps in the Ebola response and recovery; encouraged new applications of 21st century tools and knowledge; and paved pathways for quickly delivering promising innovations to market. More information can be found here.
These are just two examples of the collaborative work between private and public sectors to tackle Ebola. More than 30 U.S. nonprofit organizations have sent 10,000 people to work on the ground. And U.S. companies, including UPS and General Electric, continue to contribute their knowledge and expertise on the complex logistics and health equipment needed to fight this epidemic.
While Ebola might not be in the headlines as it once was, it is not behind us. Cases have significantly decreased in recent weeks, but the monthly total of Ebola cases still rivals the largest previous Ebola outbreak.
So, while we should celebrate our progress, we must maintain our commitment to reaching zero cases. It is our hope that the Ebola Innovation Summit can inspire and facilitate action. I am confident that by taking new approaches and developing innovative solutions, together we can get to zero.
Originally posted by Gabrielle Fitzgerald on DipNote