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.

Stay tuned for more updates and reflections following the forum.Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 6.50.02 PM

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Jeff Skoll Trip to the Middle East

Several of our Skoll Global Threats Fund team accompanied Jeff Skoll on a trip to Israel and Palestine earlier this month.  The main objectives of the trip were to visit our grantees in the region, assess prospects for peace, and explore both double-bottom-line business opportunities and philanthropic ways to engage constructively in the region.  We spent a little over a week there, visiting Skoll Global Threats Fund and Skoll Foundation grantees and speaking with representatives from the business community (including a number of tech startups), civil society and government on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

Through the Skoll Foundation and the Skoll Global Threats Fund, Jeff has engaged philanthropically in Israel and Palestine for a number of years, and the trip afforded an opportunity to touch base with several of the groups the two entities work with, including Friends of the Earth Middle East (see photo below), Sadara VenturesOneVoice, Partners for Sustainable Development, the New Israel Fund and the Telos Group. We also had an opportunity to meet with a range of other civil society players working on issues ranging from economic development to women’s empowerment to nonviolence.

Jeff and our president, Larry Brilliant, had been invited to come to Israel earlier this year by Israeli President Shimon Peres, and they met and had a wide ranging conversation with the President.  The group also met with Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad to get his assessment of current economic and political challenges in the region, including on the peace process.  With Prime Minister Fayyad, we had a chance to discuss the upcoming film from Jeff’s media company, Participant Media, that focuses on the state-building efforts of the Palestinian Authority over the last several years.

All in all, an action-packed and extremely informative set of meetings that provided us a good sense of the complexities and challenges of working in this region at this moment of time.

Jeff Skoll and Larry Brilliant meet with the team from Friends of the Earth Middle East, a 2009 recipient of the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship from the Skoll Foundation, in their Tel Aviv office.