Recent innovations in technology are changing the way the world reacts to global pandemic events. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 helped pave the way for how we are responding to the coronavirus outbreak. Here are four ways that technology is changing our response to pandemics.
Technology helps facilitate better messaging to local populations who may be affected by quarantine. It allows officials to get pertinent information to the masses – like sharing hazard warnings and proper clean-up techniques.
One recent example of stellar messaging is how the Text to Change organization helped combat Ebola. The organization partnered with Airtel to send one million text messages to Sierra Leoneans. Those messages contained information on how to prevent the spread of Ebola. Quick messaging like this can be vital in helping stop the spread of new threats like the coronavirus, COVID-19.
Technology is also changing how we train health care workers to deal with pandemics. Teaching standardized response techniques across the globe can create a faster response. Training materials can be tailored to each region’s specific needs, too.
Technology can help local populations treat themselves long after emergency support has left. That is important in situations where local medical infrastructure may be overwhelmed with patients.
Improved connectivity in the developing world is the backbone of how technology can stop pandemics. Providing access to information and messaging to rural areas brings both economic and health benefits. Communication is key to containing local virus spreading.
Keeping our communication networks stable in rural developing areas is a priority. Telemedicine for refugees can also help prevent the spread of viruses. It gets health services into areas that may be on quarantine with no health care.
The most critical component to preventing global virus spread is real-time monitoring. Technology can help health officials monitor any new virus outbreak as it happens. Examining data from cell towers and tracking users who have had contact with known cases is just one example of real-time monitoring.
Some other initiatives that are trialed include allowing staff to enter patient details electronically. That data can help paint a clearer picture of the outbreak among medical staff. It will also enable local clinics to link together to track health data related to outbreaks in a central database.