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West African Health Organization bets on tech to tame cross-border outbreaks of Ebola, Yellow Fever

The 15 member states of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Nigeria among them, are leveraging technology that will help them prevent cross-border outbreaks of epidemics including Ebola, cholera, yellow fever, Lassa fever, measles, onchocerciasis and meningitis. As part of the USAID funded Regional Action through Data (RAD) program, WAHO is exploring innovative uses of technology in partnership with BroadReach Consulting to:
Support improvement of the production, dissemination and use of health information (through weekly and quarterly epidemiological bulletins, regional health profiles and a regional statistical yearbook); `
Strengthen cross-border health and epidemiological surveillance
Support cross-border health mapping, monitoring of epidemic-prone diseases(EPDs) vaccination and HIV programmes, and cross-border collaboration.
RAD is using the ‘Disease Threat Management Solution’ of BroadReach Consulting, which leverages Vantage technology to track and analyse data for major infectious diseases, including Ebola, Onchocerciasis and Cholera, in each country.
Vantage collates and digests a large amount of indicator data from different countries to produce a weekly Epidemiology Bulletin. The weekly bulletin is circulated among senior health officials and, should there be a risk of an outbreak or an actual occurrence in a border region, the relevant agencies are alerted and guided to mobilise resources and take effective action to prevent or contain the outbreak.
The ‘Disease Threat Management Solution’ is a breakthrough in the control of disease outbreaks because it utilises multi-source and multi-country data for expedited response and decision making. Previously, when an outbreak occurred in one country, a neighbouring country might have learnt of the risk only after it emerged within its borders.
The inability to monitor and share information at scale has been a major set-back in the control of infectious disease outbreaks, until now.
“Every year, infectious diseases such as Ebola and malaria claim the lives of about five million Africans, and the inability to monitor and share information at scale has been a major set-back in the control of outbreaks,” said says Dr Uchenna Nwokenna, Acting Program Director: Regional Actions Through Data at BroadReach Consulting. “These outbreaks have major, far-reaching implications for the communities they affect. We believe that the prevention and control of infectious disease outbreaks is possible when you combine human ingenuity and technology.”

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