The key to fighting the next ‘Ebola’ outbreak is in your pocket
When a toddler called Emile Ouamouno, in the village of Meliandou in Guinea, died from Ebola in December 2013, it took three months for the rest of the world to know about it and a further six months to act. The result was an epidemic that killed 11,000 people across West Africa.
In fighting infectious diseases, speed is crucial. The faster you can detect and map an outbreak, the easier it should be to contain it – if you act fast as well.
Today, people from rural areas in the developing world – often the reservoirs of novel infections – are moving in and out of towns and cities in their millions; the people they meet there fly on to countries around the world. The good news is that the way we fight infectious diseases is – finally – speeding up to match.
Back in 2008, a researcher called Andy Tatem started studying malaria outbreaks in Zanzibar. He knew that carriers were flying in from Tanzania – but there was no data about who they were, or where they went next.
- Health Care