In 2014, West Africa fell victim to what would become the largest Ebola outbreak in disease history, with more cases and deaths reported than all of the previous outbreaks combined.
In an attempt to contain the contagion, field workers in Africa began retracing human contacts of known patients. When people are identified soon after exposure, they can be monitored for symptoms during Ebola’s 21-day incubation period. As a result, the odds of preventing further spread vastly improve.
But how do we contain the entire epidemic? The information needed to respond to Ebola must spread faster than the disease itself, say our partners at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
“The way information is collected and shared is fragmented and terribly inefficient,” said Anne Liu, the Earth Institute’s associate director for health systems development.
In order to interrupt Ebola’s chains of transmission, workers must be able to share critical data almost instantly. Fast access is mission-critical.