With the United States now declared Ebola free as of this writing, the media hype surrounding Ebola in the U.S. has simmered down a touch.
According to no shortage of healthcare experts, a potential Ebola outbreak was stopped in its tracks thanks, at least to some degree, by a text-messaging program originally intended for patients with diabetes.
Although texting alone didn’t stop Ebola from becoming a domestic pandemic, Davy James of Pharmacy Times noted that the only Ebola case in Senegal was confirmed in August and from there a massive public awareness campaign began when the World Organization and Senegal’s Ministry of Health sent out 4 million SMS warning the public regarding the dangers of Ebola and how to prevent its spread.
This campaign was driven by the WHO-supported mDiabetes platform which was launched in June.
The campaign also included radio announcements, flyers, and a government-hosted website encouraging people to wash their hands, avoid contact with people who are sick or have dies from Ebola, and not to touch or eat meat of dead or sick monkey, rats, warthogs, porcupines, or pork.
Etienne Krug, MD, WHO director of management of noncommunicable diseases said “Innovative technology platforms like mDiabetes can play a vital role in spreading simple prevention messages to a wide audience, such as the importance of a healthy diet and physical exercise.”
Douglas Bettcher, MD, WHO director of prevention of noncommunicable diseases added “This is an excellent example of collaboration across two disease programs.”
The collaboration highlights the various measures that nations can utilize to attack public health emergencies before they become an epidemic.