WiRED Launches Project on Community Preparedness
for Infectious Disease Outbreaks

This unique interactive project is WiRED’s largest ever release of training material.

BY BERNICE BORN

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wo years ago, WiRED’s team of medical writers and computer experts began an adventurous project to train communities how to prepare for the onset of an infectious disease outbreak. Thousands of communities around the world face the threat of serious diseases without suitable preparation or even basic information. Leaders and ordinary community members very often don’t know how to prepare for and manage the outbreak, and that can lead to dire consequences. This project delivers training courses that can help prepare communities and save lives.

 


How the interactive program works:

  • Users input two details: their role in the community and name of the disease threatening the population.
  • The computer then instantly assembles a training course tailored for that user.
  • The course comprises:
    • An introduction to infectious diseases.
    • A review of what a person should consider, depending on his/her role in the community.
    • A review of how that disease is transmitted and how a community can prepare for it and even prevent it.
    • A detailed review of the disease, including a description, signs and symptoms, causes, treatment, and more on prevention.

The Medtronic Foundation generously awarded WiRED a grant to develop this critical educational material. The 2014 Ebola crisis in West Africa highlighted the vulnerability of populations facing a serious disease. Ebola is especially virulent, but communities in underserved regions every day face illnesses like Zika, typhoid fever, malaria, cholera and dozens of other life-threatening diseases. WiRED believes that the first step in approaching any outbreak is education. Well-informed and organized communities can do a lot to prepare for a disease and can either prevent it from occurring or reduce the damage it can inflict.

 

The unique feature of this project is that, using only two details, a computer program can instantly create a training course to suit the user: it uses the role of the person in the community (for instance a community leader, a medical professional, or a member of the general public) and the name of the disease threatening the population. After a user enters this information, the computer delivers a four-part course.

 

This evidence-based course, which draws on research from the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, looks at how each member of a community can help prepare for and manage an outbreak. To assist with prevention, the course also offers details on how a particular illness is transmitted. Finally the course offers a detailed review of the disease, including a description, signs and symptoms, causes, treatment, and additional specifics regarding prevention. Each user is presented with similar terms and concepts to facilitate communication, which allows community leaders to talk with each other and with the general public about measures necessary to address the outbreak.

 

The Infectious Disease project launches with 22 diseases, selected because they are cited by the WHO as the most common infections likely to cause an outbreak. During the next four months, WiRED will add modules covering additional diseases on the WHO list, for an expected total of 42 diseases. WiRED will maintain the collection, adding topics as needed to reflect changing outbreak conditions around the world.

 

WiRED's staff has worked countless hours on this project, driven by the knowledge that many communities in developing regions that face serious diseases lack guidance on how to prevent an outbreak or what to do if an outbreak occurs. The program provides that guidance. It will be available online, and can be used on laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Further, it will soon be available for downloading, allowing people to use the material offline in any location.

 

 

 

 


Coming Soon: Mother and Child Health Program

 

In addition to this project on community preparedness for infectious outbreaks, WiRED will soon release a 24-part educational series titled “Mother and Child Health.” This series provides a comprehensive training program to assist families, caregivers, community health workers and others with issues related to the following four topics:

  • Before Pregnancy
  • During Pregnancy
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Becoming a Parent

The Mother and Child Health series will be used by schools, clinics and hospitals, other NGOs and organizations that help families prepare for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and the early years of childhood.

 

 

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