PBS Newshour: Stamping out smallpox is just one chapter of his Brilliant life story

Our Chairman, Dr. Larry Brilliant continues his discussion with PBS Newshour special correspondent, Fred de Sam Lazaro, looking back at his career and current work identifying today’s global threats.

In the segment, which ran on PBS Newshour on March 9, Larry shares more about his days in the San Francisco hippie scene and his work as one of the world’s leading disease fighters who helped eradicate smallpox. He also gives a nod to the work of the pandemics team here at Skoll Global Threats Fund working to end pandemics.

You can watch the full segment at this link: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/videos/#209296

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Guardiões da Saúde (Guardians of Health) Receives Recognition at the World Government Summit

Guardiões da Saúde (Guardians of Health) was recently announced as the winner of the Best Mobile Government Service at the World Government Summit in Dubai.

Supported by the Skoll Global Threats Fund and the Brazilian Ministry of Health, the app was built by Brazilian eHealth startup Epitrack. Garnering more than 60,000 downloads, Guardiões da Saúde was used during the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Brazil to monitor potential disease outbreaks in real-time.

The application was developed by applying participatory surveillance technology, where app users’ health and location data was voluntarily and confidentially shared daily to monitor health conditions. The collective data reported could then warn users and officials of health threats, quickly triggering control and prevention actions at the local, state, and national levels.

With the support of governments and individuals, technology and participatory surveillance can help ensure that mass gatherings like the Olympics continue to be celebratory moments where people around the world can peacefully embrace other cultures and not put their health at risk.

The award announcement can be found here.

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A message from our Chief Medical Officer: Microbes are not deterred by borders, and neither are we

By Dr. Mark Smolinski

At the close of  2016, the SGTF Ending Pandemics Team created a home for our partners across the globe to connect and learn with one another. EndingPandemics.org, the new home for our Community of Practice, will continue to evolve and grow as our work expands.

From Chiang Mai, Thailand to Morogoro, Tanzania, we collaborate with a brilliant team of grantees, ministries of health, and private and public sector partners in 143 countries. Our mission: to find and report outbreaks faster no matter where they occur on the planet.

We’ve seen how tools created by the people, for the people, are saving lives and preventing economic loss that could debilitate communities. We’ve seen the drive of a village volunteer to stop a potentially catastrophic outbreak in its path by diligently taking a photo of a sick cow, filling out a few fields on a app, and pushing “send.” Every week, over 60,000 individual volunteers in North America report symptoms of influenza-like-illness to help us track the first signs and spread of the seasonal flu. Twenty-eight countries collaborate in a regional network collective to share best practices and scale innovations.

Openness to learning and sharing knowledge are essential to doing the work we do. It’s people like our Community of Practice partners who enrich and shape our perspectives on the endless possibilities of how we can improve our world.

Microbes are not deterred by borders, and neither are we. Ending pandemics is a movement that starts with all of us.

Explore the work of our Community of Practice at EndingPandemics.org.

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Dr. Larry Brilliant Reflects on his Spiritual Journey as a Doctor on PBS Religion & Ethics Weekly

Our Chairman, Dr. Larry Brilliant, is featured on the PBS program Religion & Ethics Weekly. As correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports, Brilliant became a disciple of an Indian guru and worked on helping to eradicate smallpox, a disease that once killed millions of people every year. Today, Brilliant is a guru to many elites in Silicon Valley and a philanthropist who embraces the ethical wisdom of many faiths, working to combat global threats and scourges such as pandemics, climate change, and nuclear proliferation.

The interview is slated to also run on PBS NewsHour and it can be found at the link here: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/2016/12/09/larry-brilliant/33644/

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Dr. Larry Brilliant Explores the Meaning of Compassion

Our Chairman, Dr. Larry Brilliant, shares his incredible spiritual journey from a young boy in Detroit to a key player in the eradication of one of the worst pandemics in human history, in his new book Sometimes Brilliant. Larry recently gave a talk exploring the meaning of compassion at Dreamforce 2016, where he reflected on his powerful experiences as a civil-rights marcher, philosopher, mystic, hippie, doctor, and groundbreaking tech innovator.

Watch his talk at the link here: https://www.salesforce.com/video/282829/

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Larry Brilliant to Judge New MacArthur Foundation Competition for $100 Million

Our Chairman, Dr. Larry Brilliant, will serve as an evaluating judge for a new $100 million award to a single proposal designed to help solve a critical problem affecting people, places, or the planet.

Started by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 100&Change is open to organizations working in any field of endeavor anywhere around the world. Applicants must identify both the problem they are trying to solve, as well as their proposed solution. Competitive proposals must be meaningful, verifiable, durable, and feasible.

More information on the competition can be found at www.100andchange.org.

All inquiries should be directed to: questions@100andchange.org

 

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Skoll Global Threats Fund President Discusses Imagination & Wicked Problems

Skoll Global Threats Fund’s President, Annie Maxwell, returned to her alma mater to speak at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Hosted by the Josh Rosenthal Education Fund, this lecture is part of series created in memory of Josh Rosenthal, a U-M graduate who died at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The fund supports lectures, research, and student internships that encourage public discussion and greater understanding of changes in the world since September 11.

Annie’s talk explores the role of the imagination and diversity when it comes to addressing wicked problems. Often viewed as complex challenges that intersect with one another, wicked problems generally can’t be solved, only improved, and tend to be difficult to even define. In her lecture, Annie provides specific examples on how the Skoll Global Threats Fund uses the imagination to tackle climate change, pandemics, and regional conflict.

You can watch the full lecture here: http://fordschool.umich.edu/events/2016/wicked-problems-role-imagination-and-creativity

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National Disease Reporting Hotline Starts to Flourish in Cambodia

Guest Post by Joseph Agoada, Global Communication Lead at InSTEDD

Since early 2015, the iLab Southeast Asia (iLab SEA) has supported the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s Center for Disease Control (Cambodian CDC) in an effort to improve the country’s ability to monitor and track disease spread. In January of 2016, the collaboration resulted in the launch of “115,” a free public national disease reporting hotline that is accessible by dialing the number 115. The hotline was built with SGTF grantee, InSTEDD’s open source mobile and web interactive voice response tool Verboice, and is available to anyone in the country with a phone and mobile network coverage.

The hotline allows for the general public to call and report an alert of a possible outbreak and get information posted by the Cambodian CDC. It is becoming especially valuable to frontline health workers responsible for reporting of infectious disease information on a weekly basis. With their mobile phones and the hotline, health workers can digitally document and report disease data to their districts, a job that previously required time intensive administrative paperwork and often long distance travel on challenging roads and inclement weather.

This past May we visited the Cambodian CDC Director, Dr. Ly Sovann, and 115 project lead, Dr. Sok Samnang, at the Ministry of Health offices in Phnom Penh. Dr. Sovann and Dr. Samnang shared that the project was having extremely promising initial results. Reports from district health centers, where workers were trained on using 115, were showing signs of increased timeliness, accuracy and frequency. Another unexpected benefit observed was a significant morale boost among health workers. The particularly laborious task of weekly reporting, which usually took painstaking paperwork, could now be done in under thirty minutes.

The improvements in speed of sending information to the national level ministry and the productivity of health workers are many positive signals for the 115 line. This progress, however, is just the beginning. Trainings for building the capacity of health workers to utilize the hotline are starting to roll out across the country. Furthermore, integration of the reporting systems with other disease databases are also underway.

When expanded, refined, and streamlined with national reporting systems, the 115 line will be able to deliver near real-time information to public health decision makers tasked with mobilizing limited resources and stopping outbreaks before they claim lives. While challenges lay ahead, the InSTEDD iLab team in Cambodia is motivated by the vision of scaling the use of the hotline beyond Cambodia’s borders. Neighboring countries in the region are taking notice of the power behind a free to the public, open source disease reporting hotline.

The 115 project was made possible with funding from the Skoll Global Threats Fund.
To get a firsthand account of 115 see the photo essay from the iLab Southeast Asia. For more information on the work of InSTEDD visit their homepage and follow them on Twitter.

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An Inconvenient Truth…A Decade Later

May 2016 marks the tenth anniversary of the documentary release, An Inconvenient Truth.

A film that intended to raise public awareness on the dangers of global warming sparked a movement that opened the eyes of the masses and established better public understanding on climate change.

When the movie premiered, the effect was immediate: People began talking about the climate crisis—to their friends, their family, and everyone else in their lives. Millions of voices joined together all across the planet to demand action.

A decade later, we continue to work towards progress. Last December, 195 countries solidified the historic Paris Agreement to cut global warming pollution and accelerate the world’s shift to clean energy.

There is so much more that needs to be done, but the tremendous impact of one documentary and the relentless efforts of so many mobilizing to fight climate change keeps us moving, creating, and committed to confronting global threats.

Take a moment to share your truth using the hashing #ait10, joining Al Gore in a conversation on the anniversary of the film’s release. For more ways to get involved, visit takepart.com/ait10.

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Skoll World Forum 2016: Fierce Compassion

Next week, a group of us from the Skoll Global Threats Fund will be joining the movers and shakers of the social change world at the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. For three days we will debate, discuss, network, and design to accelerate entrepreneurial solutions for the world’s most pressing problems.

From climate change to ending pandemics, a number of our initiatives at the Skoll Global Threats Fund overlap with some of the activities and topics included in this year’s forum.

The theme for this year is fierce compassion; we believe this notion is integral to all the work we do in tackling global threats.

Check out the Forum Live page at skoll.org/live for videos, photos, and conversations as they happen in real time. The live-streamed coverage begins at 10:00am GMT +1 on April 13, 2016.

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