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Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

submitted by George Hurlburt - November 22, 2014
Adeline Decuyper, Alex Rutherford, Amit Wadhwa, Jean-Martin Bauer, Gautier Krings, Thoralf Gutierrez, Vincent D. Blondel, Miguel A. Luengo-Oroz
arXiv:1412.2595 [cs.CY]

Recent studies have shown the value of mobile phone data to tackle problems related to economic development and humanitarian action. In this research, we assess the suitability of indicators derived from mobile phone data as a proxy for food security indicators. We compare the measures extracted from call detail records and airtime credit purchases to the results of a nationwide household survey conducted at the same time. Results show high correlations (> .8) between mobile phone data derived indicators and several relevant food security variables such as expenditure on food or vegetable consumption. This correspondence suggests that, in the future, proxies derived from mobile phone data could be used to provide valuable up-to-date operational information on food security throughout low and middle income countries.

CLICK HERE - RESEARCH - Estimating Food Consumption and Poverty Indices with Mobile Phone Data

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How Bad Data Fed the Ebola Epidemic


Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times - By RACHEL GLENNERSTER, HERBERT M’CLEOD and TAVNEET SURI - January 30, 2015

. . . Valid, credible and timely data is essential during a global crisis. Without reliable data, efforts to assist affected people and to rebuild damaged communities can be misdirected and inefficient. . .

The West African Ebola outbreak first hit Sierra Leone in May 2014, followed by an explosion of cases in the capital Freetown in the autumn. . .

The early days of the crisis were characterized by a sense of immense fear, anxiety and alarm, regionally and globally. .

Misleading reports, speculation and poor projections from international agencies, government ministries and the media about the Ebola outbreak exacerbated the problem.


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Guinea's Grand Imam Pulls No Punches In His Ebola Message

NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO by Ofeiba Quist-Arcton                                                      Jan. 26, 2015

"Ebola — you have to do more," roars the barrel-bellied cleric El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, with his white beard and mustache, in a snow-white boubou, the traditional flowing gown of West Africa.


Guinea's Grand Imam, El Hadj Mamadou Saliou Camara, tells his fellow clerics: "If there is any doubt at all, then no one must touch the body."Kevin Leahy /NPR

That's the message he delivered over the weekend to hundreds of his fellow clerics, who gathered in Kindia, the third largest city in Guinea and a major crossroads. Many of the residents still blame Westerners for bringing the virus to their country.

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USAID broadens effort to correct Ebola misinformation in Liberia

DEVEX   by Molly Anders                                                                                   Jan. 26, 2015

In the scramble to reach the most remote residents of Ebola-hit Liberia, the U.S. Agency for International Development has signed on Mercy Corps, Finnish Church Aid and many other organizations to spread information about the disease to the country’s farthest-flung areas, and to correct misinformation along the way.


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ICAP Conducts an Assessment of Ebola Community Care Centers in Sierra Leone

submitted by Stephen Morse - January 15, 2015

An ICAP team conducted a three-week, rapid assessment of Ebola community care centers (CCCs), a new model of care that aims to break the cycle of household transmission of the Ebola virus.

With funding from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), ICAP team members visited 11 sites across six districts—Bo, Bombali, Kambia, Koinadugu, Port Loko, and Western Area—to assess the safety, effectiveness, acceptability, and operational feasibility of these centers, where patients with symptoms suggestive of Ebola receive care and support as they await diagnosis and transfer to Ebola treatment units or referral for other medical services. . .

. . . Using a 168-item site assessment survey, information was gathered on patient flow, laboratory services, on-site standard operating protocols, and other key operational areas of the community care centers.


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Most calls to Ebola center are pranks: Sierra Leone official

AFP-JIJI                                                                               Jan. 14, 2014
FREETOWN – Eighty percent of people phoning a toll-free Ebola help number are prank callers, the head of the Ebola Call Centre in Sierra Leone, Reynold Senessie, said Tuesday.

“Such prank calls are affecting the smooth operation of the center,” Senessie said while briefing Palo Conteh, head of the National Ebola Response Centre (NERC), who paid an unannounced visit to the call center.

The good news is that “genuine calls are dwindling and response to such calls have been swift,” he added.

Read complete story.

Use of a Nationwide Call Center for Ebola Response and Monitoring During a 3-Day House-to-House Campaign — Sierra Leone, September 2014

CDC detaied study of call center useage in Sierra Leone

See complete study.

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Launching a vital link in the Ebola-response effort

MIT Center for Transportation & Logistics                    Jan. 13, 2015

A shipment of medical equipment that arrived in Monrovia, Liberia, from Miami on Jan. 12 will enable 25 government hospitals to receive infection-control training. Critically, the shipment will help facilities that were partially or fully closed due to the ongoing Ebola crisis to recommence regular operations.

Many resources in the Ebola-response effort have appropriately focused on Ebola treatment; this flight launches an important new step in the response by providing training and supplies for health workers to safely resume vital services.

The delivery was organized by the Academic Consortium Combatting Ebola in Liberia (ACCEL), a network of academic centers with technical expertise in emergency medicine and logistics systems....

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Ebola Response Provides Key Lessons for Risk Communications

Commentary: The CDC fumbled initial communications about Ebola transmission but recovered. What about next time?

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT  by Jim McKay                                                              Jan. 13, 2015

It would be interesting to see what would happen if there was another Ebola scare in the U.S. The answer might depend on when it happened and perhaps where the person became infected. But chances are the health infrastructure would handle it, and perhaps respond to another infectious disease outbreak much better, having had the experience that the recent Ebola episodes provided.

That experience included hiccups and communication errors that resulted not in panic but disagreement on the part of some in the health community and alarm in the public. One target of criticism is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which was confident from the beginning in expressing that hospitals throughout the U.S. were ready to handle Ebola cases and messaging to the public about the difficulty of transmission of the infection. The CDC chose not to participate in this discussion....

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CDC - Ebola Training in Anniston


The CDC’s Karen Williams, right, instructs Kwan Kew Lai to wash her hands before each step in the process before she removes her protective suit at an Ebola-treatment training session in Anniston, Ala.
Steve Gates for The Wall Street Journal - January 7, 2015

Making the decision to volunteer in an Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) in West Africa shows a lot of courage and takes support from friends, loved ones, and other healthcare workers. It also requires the knowledge and skills to safely treat very sick patients in a challenging environment. CDC understands that healthcare workers preparing to deploy to West Africa need to know the infection prevention and control principles necessary for working in an ETU. To help meet this need, CDC offers an introductory training course at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama.



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EbolaTracks: an automated SMS system for monitoring persons potentially exposed to Ebola virus disease

EUROSURVEILLANCE                                                              Volume 20, Issue 1, Jan. 8 2015

Australian researchers reported on an automated text-message system used for actively monitoring people potentially exposed to Ebola. The system prompts contacts to submit information on symptoms and temperature twice a day. The Department of Health in Western Australia uses the system, called "EbolaTracks," to track travelers returning from West Africa and (potentially) contacts of any local cases.

Twenty-two people were enrolled in the program as of Jan 5, and 14 have completed active monitoring. The system sent 1,108 text messages and got a 91% response rate. Health officials followed up by phone when they didn't get a reply. Such systems could be valuable tools for larger-scale contact monitoring for Ebola or other infectious diseases, they concluded.

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