African technologists advocate national data centers, call centers to aid in Ebola response

ICT group based in Nigeria calls for more robust technology-based response to the rapid spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa.

African technologists advocate national data center, call center to aid in Ebola response
African technologists advocate national data center, call center to aid in Ebola response

Photo Credit: Reuters/JAMES GIAHYUE

Emeka Aginam of Nigeria's Vanguard news service has reported that "to achieve the expected results in the fight against Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) spreading like wildfire globally, the Africa Emergency Technology Response Forum (AETRF) called for more concerted efforts to bring robust technological responses to the crisis. This is even as the World Health Organization has said that EVD has continued to evolve in alarming ways, with the severely affected countries struggling to control the escalating outbreak," writes Aginam.

As stated in the Vanguard report, "AETRF is an informal network of African technology professionals engaged in Ebola response on the continent and in the Diaspora. The immediate past President of Institute of Software Practitioners of Nigeria, (ISPON), Chris Uwaje in a statement to Vanguard said that AETRF believes that the expertise of technology professionals, practitioners and volunteers could be more effectively harnessed to curtail the monster virus.

"The Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak cannot be effectively controlled without the critical inclusion, deployment, application and use of Information Technology infrastructure, tools and enabling resources," said the group. "While we commend the constructive interventions already in place, we recognize that more needs to be done," the statement added.

As concurrently noted in AllAfrica.com's Voice of America (VOA) coverage, "President Barack Obama is due to announce new measures Tuesday (September 16) to help fight the worst-ever Ebola outbreak in West Africa, including sending 3,000 U.S. troops to the region. A White House statement detailing the program said the troops will be sent to a new command center in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, where they will help with the transportation of supplies and personnel. The U.S. will also build and staff Ebola treatment centers, and set up a facility to train 500 healthcare workers a week. The White House said the goal of the program is to control the Ebola epidemic at its source, lessen the economic and political toll it takes on the region and build up global "health security infrastructure" in West Africa and beyond."

Directly quoting the Vanguard's Aginam, "to fight the virus to the barest minimum, the AETRF [calls] on all African Heads of State and governments to endorse and approve the following recommendations:

-- Increase the political commitment to stop the EVD outbreak by immediately designating a technology leader on the National task force to coordinate the government's technology initiatives in response to the Ebola outbreak.

-- This leader should have the government's full mandate to leverage government resources, private sector or NGO efforts in fulfilling any relevant Ebola response communications, data gathering, contact mapping and analysis of efforts;

-- Encourage all African countries to establish a 'National Data Center' to host the 'National Call Center for Ebola.'

-- Encourage all African countries to establish a 'National Health Emergencies News & Information Radio Station' that compiles, vets and disseminates accurate health information including preventative measures related to hygiene, health education and emergency information.

In addition to the radio station, AETRF recommends the use of all available communications platforms including and not limited to television, SMS messaging and social media. These healthcare communications, according to the group, should be available in local languages, and should address all diseases that impact the lives of Africans, including Ebola, Cholera and Malaria."

Full stories:Nigeria: EVD - African Techies Call for More Robust Technology Based Response (http://allafrica.com)

Liberia: U.S Sending 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Expanded Ebola Effort (http://allafrica.com)

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