Collaborating for a Cure to Ebola and Beyond

In March, Beatrice Yordoldo, the last known Ebola patient in Liberia, was released from a Chinese-built Ebola treatment unit (ETU) in the Paynesville suburb of the capital Monrovia to cheers from healthcare workers, government officials and aid workers. Her departure marks the first time in nine months that the country has gone a full week without any new infections. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost 24,000 people were infected with the virus since December 2013. Nearly all of those infected were in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and 9,807 of them have died.

Liberia’s health infrastructure suffered after civil wars and during the height of the epidemic, many of those affected were turned away from health clinics, left to die in the streets. But a huge national and international response helped to stem the spread.

Last December, in response to the White House Grand Challenge on Ebola, Points of Light in collaboration with CECP, CollaborateUp, PSI and PYXERA Global convened 120 stakeholders a day-long meeting. Ebola response is more than just getting to zero and we identified five priority areas for action where businesses, governments and NGOs could work together to improve immediate response now and strengthen long term disaster resiliency:

Since then, many companies including GE, GSK, and IBM have been innovating new solutions to the crisis and shared updates on their work and cross-sector collaboration efforts during a recent webinar. Looking across these efforts, we see five lessons that anyone looking to accelerate innovation in a crisis can take away:

  1. Work with strange bedfellows
  2. Work across disciples
  3. Innovate during disasters
  4. Remember the human element
  5. Use a structured process

While eliminating Ebola is important, companies and NGOs recognize that Ebola is an example of many crises that can plague West Africa and the rest of the developing world. Efforts should now pivot to focus on systems-strengthening to prepare for what’s next.

What can you do to help?

  1. Get involved in one of the five priority areas.
  2. Remind your organization that this is an ongoing issue.
  3. Get a firm grounding in the facts and data. Consider hosting a DataLab, similar to the event we hosted in December to convene stakeholders to get clear on what's happening and what others are doing.
  4. Look out for another convening to determine what corporations, government agencies, and NGOs can do to help. As part of our structured process, we call this meeting our PartnerLab and Points of Light will be providing more details soon, watch this space.
  5. Come to CollaborateUp Academy to learn how you can adapt and use structured techniques to jumpstart social innovations. 
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