Yesterday in New York I was invited by the U.S. Department of State to discuss my work as a member of the team behind Ebola Deeply.
My co-panelist was Nicole Walden of the International Rescue Committee in Liberia, an organization that has been based in-country for years, well before the current outbreak. It was interesting to hear her perspective, as she’s witnessed what was already a bad situation in Liberia (post-civil-war country with poor infrastructure and low-education) go from bad to worse. The presence of Ebola has hat several net affects, not the least of which is the fact that it’s devastated the economy of the country and disrupted the flow of the resources needed to fight other out-of-control diseases in the country like HIV and Malaria. There’s also the growing shortage of hospital beds and other medical equipment. The situations in Guinea and Sierra Leone are similar.
Her teams work on the ground is remarkable and it was fascinating to hear them explain it.
At Ebola Deeply we’re attacking a different set of problems. One is how do we better inform Western audiences (and Western media) about the Ebola outbreak by sharing the best information. My partners at News Deeply have worked with us to create a portal that presents a vertical ‘deep-dive’ into the subject of Ebola. Our other partner, Isha Sesay of CNN, has been diligently working in-country to bring attention to the affected countries, one of which is home for her (Sierra Leone). There she’s capturing survivor stories, interviewing various heads of State about policy decisions, and connecting with local partners.
The other aspect of the Ebola Deeply project is a health intervention strategy that leverages mobile phones to better inform communities in the affected countries. We wanted to go beyond text messaging because literacy in the affected countries is so low it we didn’t think it made much sense to broadcast text messages if no one could read them. Instead we’ve partnered with one of our Appfrica Fund portfolio companies Farmerline to develop new solutions for broadcasting audio content. This new service is called Mobile Wire and builds on mobile technology that Appfrica won the 2012 Knight News Challenge for.
If you’d like to read the full transcript of this press conference, you can find it here. Slides from the press conference appear below: