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PUL, UNDP host Social Good Summit

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in collaboration with the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) is to host its first Social Good Summit to highlight the ways in which new technology was harnessed to help tackle the Ebola outbreak in some most disadvantaged communities here.

The Social Good Summit explores how technology is being used for social good around the world. The global theme, 2030NOW asks the question, “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” During the summit, global citizens around the world unite to unlock the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

According to a press release, Dr. MosokaFallah, Principal Investigator for Ebola Natural History Study at the Ministry of Health, will lead a panel on technology and public health on Monday, 28 September at the West Point Administration Building in Monrovia. The panel will discuss how technology was used to collect and share Ebola related data.

During the peak of the Ebola crisis in Liberia, Dr. Fallah was one of the few people, who ventured into the labyrinthine alleys of West Point at a time when the outbreak appeared to have spread exponentially and there were not nearly enough treatment unit beds to meet demand.

He knew that re-gaining the people’s trust was crucial if Liberia were to have any chance of containing the outbreak. His public health background meant he understood the importance of setting up and surveillance teams and contact tracing despite what seemed like overwhelming odds in the early days.

Building on a technique that was used during the Liberian civil war, he divided communities like West Point, into zones to help ensure that everybody received food and other vital supplies, while recruiting hundreds of volunteers to act as surveillance teams and case finders.

Impressed by his efforts to organize a community response, UNDP Liberia secured funding to employ 5,000 Active Case Finders (ACFs) to scour Montserrado County, which encompasses Monrovia and its outskirts, for people showing signs and symptoms of the disease. The ACFs were drawn from the local community, so they spoke the local dialect and were trusted.

It is essential to build trust in the community,” explained Dr. Fallah, and added, “With no trust, no one will give information and it is impossible to trace contacts. “Communities that are adequately empowered can engage in a surprisingly effective fight against Ebola or any other public health fight.”

The release said on the sidelines of Monday’s event is the build up to the adoption of the new development agenda, “Transforming Our World, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  Science, Technology and Innovations (STIs) are at the heart beat of the new development goals. To the extent, a major achievement of the recently adopted Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA), an outcome of the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development is Technology Facilitation Mechanism (TFM) which is expected to be launched on 26 September 2015.

This has been widely recognized as one of the more substantial outcomes. The mechanism, which will encourage the development, dissemination and diffusion and transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries, is designed to support all the SDGs and will include an online global platform to bring together STI best practices; the release said. Edited by Jonathan Browne

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