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.
We’re co-hosting today with the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation and USAID an Ebola Innovation Summit, aimed at both getting to zero cases in the current West African outbreak, as well as learning lessons from the current crisis to better prepare for the next infectious disease outbreak. You can find more details here. Follow it on social media via the hashtags #TackleEbola and #Innovate4Ebola.
The final session of the six-part Reinventing Nuclear Security series, an initiative of N Square, which we support, focuses on envisioning a world in which nuclear weapons no longer play a role. You can watch a recap of that session below. It includes an interesting mix of futurists, faith leaders, and advocates. Worth watching. Plus, you can review recap videos of all six sessions (or watch the full 90-minute roundtables) from the series main page here.
The 2015 Skoll World Forum kicked off in Oxford tonight with a great “In Conversation With” Jeff Skoll and a panel featuring Archbishop Desmond Tutu, his daughter Mpho, Zak Ebrahim, and Ophelia Dahl talking about belief and what keeps them motivated in their social change work. The Forum continues tomorrow and Friday, with live streaming options throughout. You can check out the live stream here and follow events on Twitter with hashtag #skollwf. Hope you can check it out!
Ted-Ed has created a fun and informative short video on how to eradicate a disease, looking at the experience of the smallpox program, which our Senior Advisor and former President, Larry Brilliant, was a key part of in the 1970s. It helps explain why other infectious diseases, like HIV, are trickier, and how close we are on polio.
The most recent segment of the Reinventors Network series on Reinventing Nuclear Security focused on ways new players who don’t traditionally think of the nuclear security sphere can constructively engage in the space. We are supporting the series via our investment in N Square, a new initiative designed to help bring new ideas and new players to the nuclear security conversation. Below is a short video recap of the session. The next segment, on developing next-generation innovators to support nuclear security, takes place tomorrow, March 3, at 11:00 am PT. Click here for more information.
NHK, the Japanese broadcasting company, has done a nice segment for its English-language NHK World program on the Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) project we helped launch earlier this month in Chiang Mai, Thailand. It gives a good sense of the mobile app at the core of the effort. Watch it below.
Copyright NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) All rights reserved.
Members of our pandemics team were in Chiang Mai last week for the official launch of an innovative disease detection project. We signed an memorandum of understanding with local government leaders, Chiang Mai University and Opendream (a Thailand-based technology company) for the Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) project, a first of its kind community-based surveillance system. It operationalizes the One Health concept – that human, animal and environmental health are all intimately interrelated. Since the project began in September 2014, the team has developed a mobile application for local volunteers to report sick or dead animals, changes in food prices at markets, and food borne illness. The project team has trained over 300 volunteers from throughout Chiang Mai to use the app and they have already identified an outbreak of avian influenza and several potential cases of rabies from dog bites. Below is Thai public television coverage of the PODD project, which, though in Thai, conveys a sense of the types of animal environments included under the project. The segment starts at 5:30 in the video below, with our Mark Smolinki appearing briefly at the 8:23 mark.
The second session in the Reinventors Network series on Reinventing Nuclear Security that we’re supporting focused on how the National Labs system, born of the nuclear age, might look different in the future. It’s an interesting conversation, including former lab workers, academics, nuclear specialists and even a sci-fi writer. You can watch a short recap of that session below.