How safe are we from an ebola, Zika, H7N9, or MERS outbreak? How can we prevent a bioterrorist attack or lab accidents? Public health expert Brilliant will discuss today’s growing pandemic risks.
Brilliant was the executive director of Google.org and chaired the Presidential Advisory Committee on Bio-Surveillance. He lived in India for more than 10 years working as a United Nations medical officer, where he played a key role in the success World Health Organization smallpox eradication program in South Asia. He also co-founded The Seva Foundation, an international NGO whose programs and grantees have given back sight to more than 3.5 million blind people in more than 20 countries.
The Participatory One Health Disease Detection project (PODD) we’re supporting in Thailand with partners Chiang Mai University and OpenDream is an innovative new way to try to track disease outbreaks in animals to help reduce the change of spread to humans. A new video in the Bangkok Post, in Thai but with English subtitles, provides a nice overview of the initiative. You can watch it here.
We’re working with Chiang Mai University and several local partners on a participatory surveillance initiative in Chiang Mai province in Thailand to see if self reporting on both human and animal symptoms can lead to better outcomes in limiting disease outbreaks. The project, PODD CM One Health, has been in the field for over a year now and we’re finding interesting results. The PODD team has created a series of videos, in English, that help explain different aspects of the work. You can watch one below that shows how the PODD system responds to an outbreak signal, and find the rest on PODD’s YouTube page here.
N Square, the collaborative we’re supporting to bring new players and new ideas into the nuclear realm, presented at PopTech’s annual shindig a couple of weeks back. Erika Gregory, N Square’s executive director and Carl Robichaud, who leads the nuclear work at the Carnegie Corporation of New York, one of the collaborative’s funding partners (along with the Hewlett and MacArthur Foundations, the Ploughshares Fund and us), presented from the main stage. Their talk provides good insights into why people should care about the nuclear issue and how N Square is working to reframe how people approach it. Have a look!
N Square, the initiative we’re supporting along with other leading nuclear funders to bring new ideas and new players into the nuclear security realm, has just launched a gaming challenge with Games for Change. There’s a $10,000 prize for developing a game that engages and educates people on nuclear risks. More detail are here.
We provided some support for a climate change-focused Angry Birds Friends tournament, which kicked off today. We hope to be able to get good insights from the game about what kinds of climate messages seem to engage players the most. Plus, it’s fun! So we hope you’ll play. The Angry Birds folks were able to enlist a lot of global celebrities in creating the game. Watch the launch video below.
We, along with our partners OpenDream, Epitrack, and InSTEDD, are hosting an EpiHack in Rio to explore the potential for participatory disease surveillance at mass gatherings. By letting people report on their own symptoms, can we get a better handle on disease outbreaks at big events like the World Cup, music festivals, the Olympics and more? We helped support a pilot project for mass gathering surveillance for the World Cup in Brazil last year. This week in Rio, hackers and public health officials from 11 countries around the world will work to develop concepts and, potentially, a prototype application for participatory surveillance for mass gatherings generally. You can track developments via the hashtag #hackforhealth, or following our partners twitter feeds at @epitrack, @opendream, @instedd, or @epihack.
In April, Nepal experienced a devastating earthquake and series of aftershocks that left more than 8,500 people killed and 20,000 injured. A number of Skoll Global Threats Fund grantees and partners are based in Nepal – they and their immediate families thankfully emerged safe. As the country transitions from immediate response towards medium and long-term recovery efforts, Skoll Global Threats Fund is providing support for our partners’ activities:
Following the earthquake of April 25, The Asia Foundation, in collaboration with 44 local NGOs and organizations, provided rapid emergency relief and assessment. Rapid, catalytic grants and relief materials have been provided to address emergency needs of over 20,000 survivors. Now entering the fifth week of post-quake assistance, The Asia Foundation has begun transitioning from relief to recovery, working closely with Nepali partners to support longer-term rebuilding efforts: providing legal, dispute resolution, psychosocial, protection and education support services for marginalized/vulnerable communities; collaborating with village and municipal groups to assess and manage local dissatisfaction surrounding relief efforts; and conducting relief impact assessments and public perception surveys to track the public mood, as well as other social and relief-related issues.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) is drawing on its technical expertise to create a Task Force on Geo-hazards to assess the impact of geophysical hazards like landslides and avalanches, and monitor potential hazards, including glacial lake outbursts, rivers blocked by landslides, and the threat of landslides in areas where slopes have been destabilized by the earthquake. These studies provide relevant information to government agencies, relief groups, development organizations, and the global community.
Internews/Third Pole Project is working with local radio and media organizations to ensure information is coordinated and reaches all affected communities. Additionally, they are working to consolidate relevant data on locations of affected populations and high damage, map radio stations (affected and non affected), identify areas vulnerable to landslides, and track road blockages for teams doing assessment and response. Such information helps response teams make informed decisions. This information has been placed in an interactive web platform and is publically accessible.
We’re happy to be supporting, along with our partner HealthMap, a third digital disease detection conference in Florence, Italy, May 21-22. From the event site prepared by HealthMap:
The ability to rapidly recognize and respond to both global and local health threats remains a critical public health priority. The ever-growing digital world represents an unprecedented opportunity to harvest for new solutions and tools to face these emergencies. This digital means of disease detection has been made possible by the growing influence of Internet technology, which has significantly changed the landscape of public health surveillance and epidemic intelligence gathering.
Disease and outbreak data is now disseminated not only through formal online announcements by government agencies, but also through other informal digital channels such as social networking sites, blogs, chat rooms, Web searches, local news media, crowdsourcing platforms.
These informal data streams have been credited with decreasing the time between an outbreak and formal recognition of an outbreak, allowing for an expedited response to the public health threat.
The very recent addition of data from smart wearable body sensors for health self-assessment allows also to collect health-related data from the general public on a broader perspective not necessarily disease-related.
Collectively, these online sources create an image of global public health that is fundamentally different from the one produced by traditional public health surveillance infrastructure. As these sources become more widely used and relied upon, it is imperative that health professionals collaborate to demonstrate and improve the effectiveness of these sources. We must identify strengths and weaknesses that can be capitalized upon and remedied.
The intention of the Third International Digital Disease Detection Conference is to connect innovators in health and technology to 1) continue to define this emerging field; 2) explore novel data streams and new technologies; 3) host workshops to identify and discuss strengths and weaknesses in surveillance methods, and to promote critique and development of already existing surveillance and diagnostic tools.
Should be a great event. Follow #DDD3 on Twitter for updates.