ICTsIn recent years, studies have shown that Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) have proven to be helpful for vulnerable communities on many different fronts. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been observed that women have increasingly used ICTs, especially those in developing countries.

Hear Her Voice Project

Hear Her Voice is a research project that stemmed from the pandemic itself, allowing 25 girls from five different countries, Bangladesh, India, Malawi, Nigeria and the United States, to share their experiences during COVID-19. These firsthand narratives are insightful as they vlog their daily lives from various different technological platforms. These intimate conversations equip the women with the tools to better educate the public on the struggles they face with menstrual health, relationships, mental health, isolation and livelihoods during COVID-19.

The platform showcased the struggles women had when it came to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), especially in Jaipur and Munger. One of the Technology Enabled Girl Ambassadors (TEGA) is Carol, a 23-year-old woman from Munger, India, who shared her struggles with obtaining sanitary pads due to restricted mobility. When she first got her period during the lockdown, she was unable to obtain pads in time and was therefore left with no feminine hygiene products whatsoever.

Women Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19

A study done by the U.N. found that women’s economic resources in Asia and the Pacific are being hit the most. The pandemic has made gender inequalities more prevalent than ever, with the discrepancy highest in family businesses, remittances, property and savings. On top of this, it has been found that COVID-19 governmental aid is not as readily available to women as they are for men. The report stated 84% of women outside of formal employment lack social protections like unemployment support or government financial help. Women are suffering more than men all across the charts: 61% saw decreases in their income, savings and investments; 66% saw their mental health plummeting and  63% saw increased time spent doing unpaid domestic work.

Similar Scenarios During Ebola and Zika

During the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, women had consistently been the sole caretakers and health care providers, putting them at a higher risk of contracting these highly contagious viruses. The Zika virus in Latin America displayed how reproductive health services were limited and overlooked due to health care services allocating all of their resources into combating the epidemic. These unequal gendered patterns are yet again repeating themselves with COVID-19, the disadvantages being most pronounced for women.

The Impact of ICTs

Overall, information and communication technologies have been utilized by vulnerable minority groups ever since the rise of their prevalence in recent years. These innovative technological modes of communication are reshaping and expanding the uses of social media. The Hear Her Voice project is one of the many initiatives that have been using ICTs in the wake of a pandemic, to give a voice to women and the unique challenges they face and bring global awareness, support and assistance.

Additionally, ICTs provide helplines, applications, resource centers and more, so that women so can access the help and support they require. These platforms are transforming lives by amplifying and uplifting the voices of women during COVID-19.

– Mina Kim
Photo: Flickr

CATCH Technology for Virus DiscoveryAccurate and efficient virus detection is needed now more than ever. In areas like Africa, one of the most prevalent diseases is the viral disease of HIV/AIDS. Thousands of people die every year due to viral diseases like HIV/AIDS and even the seemingly harmless flu. The most recent of viruses is COVID-19, the rapidly spreading virus that has led to a global pandemic. CATCH technology for virus discovery provides hope for a less disease-stricken future.

CATCH Technology for Virus Discovery

First developed in 2019 by scientists at the Broad Institute, CATCH provides scientists with an efficient new way to detect and code viruses. In scientific terms, CATCH stands for Compact Aggregation of Targets for Comprehensive Hybridization. CATCH is a computational method that allows scientists and users to design probes that then catch genetic material for all viruses known to humans. This tool is particularly helpful for viruses like Zika, which is very difficult to see in clinical samples. CATCH is able to very accurately and quickly detect even viruses that occur in low abundance in clinical samples. Due to these abilities, CATCH could play a key role in future disease prevention and treatment.

Advantages of CATCH

  1. It is adaptable. As new mutations and strains of viruses are discovered and uploaded to the GenBank database, CATCH users can quickly redesign a set of probes with up-to-date information.
  2. It is efficient at detecting viruses. The Zika outbreak in 2015 proved to be particularly problematic because the Zika virus was not easily detectable within the human body. Zika is difficult to detect because even in patients who contract the virus, blood samples would often have a very low amount of actual Zika virus particles. This is where CATCH proves to be such a groundbreaking method for virus detection. CATCH can detect even the lowest amount of virus particles present in a sample.
  3. It has the power to detect all human viruses. While the first version of CATCH only targeted 20 viruses, as the software developed, the number of viruses it targeted expanded. Now, CATCH has the ability to target all forms of viruses known to infect humans. As more viruses are discovered, they can be easily added to CATCH.
  4. It is accessible. The software for CATCH is available to any member of the public on Github and the development and validation of the tool is available via an online scientific website, Nature Biotechnology.

Impact of CATCH in Africa

In a study by researchers Hayden Metsky and Katie Siddle, data gathered using CATCH helped discover that the ZIka virus was present in several regions, months before scientists could detect it.

At the time of the Lassa outbreak in Nigeria in 2018, the Lassa virus was difficult to sequence and hard to detect. The researchers proved that by using CATCH, content of the samples of the 2018 Lassa virus could be rescued. This means that the Lassa virus will be more easily detectable.

The above results warrant the use of CATCH technology for virus discovery and for future outbreaks. The CATCH tool can be used to provide low-cost disease surveillance and the information required to control outbreaks. In the very depths of a viral pandemic like COVID-19, the CATCH tool creates hope for the future of global health.

Lucia Kenig-Ziesler
Photo: Flickr

10 Scary Facts About the Zika Virus
The Zika virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1947 through a group of diseased monkeys. In 1952, the first infected human was found in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania. The Island of Yap is the first location where a large scale outbreak of the Zika virus was recorded. This incident took place in 2007. There are currently no countries facing a sizeable Zika outbreak, however, there may be a risk of contracting the disease in regions where the Aedes species of mosquito is prevalent. This article looks at the top 10 scary facts about the Zika Virus.

10 Scary Facts About the Zika Virus

  1. People are more likely to contract the Zika virus in poor countries. Mosquitoes that carry Zika often breed in stagnant water. These buildups of stagnant water are found in areas where communities lack adequate plumbing and sanitation. According to the United Nations Development Programme, poor households are least equipped to deal with the virus and are most likely to be exposed to the disease.
  2. Women face the biggest consequences during a Zika outbreak. Health ministers throughout Latin America have told women not to get pregnant during a Zika epidemic. In poorer countries, women lack access to sexual education, which leaves them vulnerable to misinformation. Furthermore, women may be blamed for contracting the virus during pregnancy, which carries an unfair social stigma.
  3. Zika poses a threat to unborn children. In some cases, when a pregnant woman is infected by the virus it disrupts the normal development of the fetus. This can cause debilitating side effects like babies being born with abnormally small heads and brains that did not develop properly. This condition is called microcephaly. Symptoms of microcephaly are seizures, decreased ability to learn, feeding problems, and hearing loss.
  4. Even though a mosquito bite may be the most well-known way to contract the Zika virus, it is possible to get the disease through other avenues. It is possible to get the disease during unprotected sex with a partner, who already have been infected by the virus. Individuals can also contract the virus during a blood transfusion or an organ transplant.
  5.  Symptoms of a Zika virus infection may go unnoticed. The symptoms can be described as mild. If symptoms do occur they can present themselves as a fever, rash or arthralgia. This is especially dangerous for pregnant women because they may not know that they have been infected, unknowingly passing it on to their unborn baby. There is no treatment available to cure this disease once it has been contracted.
  6. There are other birth defects associated with the Zika virus. Congenital Zika syndrome includes different birth problems that can occur alongside microcephaly. Some malformations associated with congenital Zika syndrome include limb contractures, high muscle tone, eye abnormalities, and hearing loss. Approximately 5-15 percent of children born to an infected mother have Zika related complications.
  7. The cost of caring for a child born with Zika related complications can be quite expensive. In Brazil, each kid born with the disease could cost $95,000 in medical expenses. It would cost approximately $180,000 in the U.S. to care for the same condition. Some experts believe the numbers are higher when taking into account a parent’s lost income and special education for the child.
  8. Even though there are more than 10 scary facts about the Zika Virus, there are also measures being taken to prevent future outbreaks. Population Services International (PSI) is working with the ministries of health in many different Latin American countries to spread contraception devices. This promotes safe sex practices. This also gives the women the power to decide if and when she wants to become pregnant.
  9.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is also implementing steps to control the Zika virus. Some of these steps include advancing research in the prevention of the virus, developing and implementing surveillance symptoms for Zika virus infection, improving Zika testing laboratories worldwide, supporting global efforts to monitor strategies aimed at limiting the Aedes mosquito populations and improving care to support families and affected children alike.
  10. The good news is that there are currently no major global outbreaks of the Zika virus. This is a sign that steps around the globe have been successful to lower the number of Zika cases. However, this doesn’t mean that precautions shouldn’t be taken when traveling to areas where the Aedes species of mosquito is prevalent. Even though they are no major outbreaks the disease still exists and may cause problems if contracted.


Even though the Zika virus may currently not be a threat worldwide, it is still something that needs to be accounted for. Zika has serious repercussions in poverty-stricken countries where people can’t afford adequate medical care. The Zika virus is also more likely to be contracted in poorer regions. The Zika virus has a strong correlation with poverty.

– Nicholas Bartlett
Photo: Flickr

Common diseases in ParaguayAt the heart of South America, Paraguay is one of the poorest countries in the region. 40 percent of its 6.7 million residents live in chronic poverty. For this landlocked nation full of millions of poor, health care is not at the forefront of government policy, as poverty continues to send the population into crisis. As a result, the country has an unfortunately low life expectancy rate and is plagued with various diseases.

Of the many common diseases in Paraguay, a particular few have been of the most concern in the last several years. Among the top causes of death in Paraguay are coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes mellitus, influenza and pneumonia, cancer, kidney disease and hypertension.

The diseases with the greatest impact on the population are intestinal infectious diseases. These viruses, parasites and bacteria result in 107.7 annual years of healthy life lost per 100,000 people. Since 1990, the mortality rate of intestinal infectious diseases has increased by 6.1 percent per 100,000 people. Mostly infants die from these diseases, but the mortality rate peaks again for adult women and men ages 60 to 64. The diseases can be a result of unsafe water, poor sanitation and lack of hand washing. The most deadly of these diseases are caused by typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever.

Other infectious diseases are also common in Paraguay. Lower respiratory infections have a mortality rate of about 28 per 100,000 people. Diarrheal diseases, while common, have had a steady decreasing mortality rate since 1990 — a solid 79 percent decrease. Meningitis and tetanus are also common infectious diseases with decreasing mortality rates, while encephalitis and intestinal diseases remain at a steady infection rate.

In 2015, the Centers for Disease Control warned that Zika virus was present in Paraguay. Public health officials reported the virus was being carried and spread by infected mosquitoes, and also warned of the virus’s dangerous lack of symptoms. Pregnant women were at the highest risk, as infection during pregnancy causes harsher symptoms and serious birth defects.

In 2014, the National Eradication Service for Vector-Borne Diseases reported that the vector for the dangerous parasitic Chagas disease was found with increasing frequency in Paraguay. At first it was believed the vector was only found in rural and indigenous areas, but uncleanliness and housing insecurity of other poor areas have caused the vector to find a home between the bricks of houses, which mimic its normal dry habitat. An estimated 165,000 people in the country suffer from chronic Chagas disease. A bite from the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, can potentially be life-threatening.

The life-saving organization, Doctors Without Borders, has worked recently in Paraguay’s rural Chaco region, educating people in isolated communities about Chagas disease and offering screenings to locals. The World Health Organization (WHO) calls Chagas the “neglected tropical disease” because the vast majority of people affected do not have access to diagnosis or treatment. Most people affected experience symptoms without knowing why. Treatment is rapid and proves to be effective.

According to the WHO, in Paraguay, the probability of dying between the ages of 15 and 60 years is 166 for males and 126 for females per 1,000 people. Additionally, the country’s total expenditure on healthcare in 2014 was 9.8 percent of GDP. If Paraguay’s healthcare system were improved to prevent, treat and educate on disease and illness, many lives could be spared. As for now, organizations like Doctors Without Borders will continue to spread hope and educate on the common diseases in Paraguay which affect a majority of the population.

Olivia Cyr

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Maldives
The top diseases in the Maldives mirror those in much of the rest of the globe. Non-communicable illnesses dominate the majority of the diseases in the Maldives. However, at 77 years, life expectancy in the Maldives is much better than the majority of the world. In addition, the annual mortality rate among healthy people in the Maldives is 578 per 100,000 people. This is with a very small population of around 400,000.

Worldwide, there needs to be more of a focus and research on cardiovascular diseases. It impacts hundreds of thousands of individuals every year, and it is the most common disease in the Maldives. Of all the major diseases, 37% of them are various types of cardiovascular disease.

The majority of the top diseases in the Maldives are non-communicable, including different cardiovascular diseases. Some of the other non-communicable diseases that impact the Maldives included chronic respiratory diseases, which have a mortality rate of just over 9%. Mortality rates for diabetes and other blood and endocrine diseases sit at just over 8%. Cancer is a major disease around the world that is receiving a lot of research, and the mortality rate in the Maldives is sitting at 7.5%.

Unintentional injuries also have a high spot on the list of mortality rates at just over 7%. Additionally, self-harm is just over 2%. Injuries seem to be a lot higher on lists than other countries around the world and are avoidable. The unintentional injuries are tough to prevent, but self-harm is preventable with proper help and care.

One of the most common communicable diseases is neonatal disorders (6% mortality rate). Additionally, diarrhea and lower respiratory diseases have a 5% mortality rate. These are rarely seen around the world.

Risk factors in the country include tobacco smoking, with 42% of current male smokers at risk and only 7% of females at risk of medical problems caused by tobacco smoking. Elevated blood pressure is also a problem, with 23% of the country having blood pressure problems. The other major risk factor in the Maldives is obesity.

Zika is still a major concern in the Maldives, so there are many precautions for individuals visiting the area. Travelers need to be aware of other diseases in the area and have their vaccinations up-to-date before entering the Maldives.

Non-communicable diseases dominate the list of top diseases in the Maldives. There needs to be more of a focus on preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases in this region.

Brendin Axtman
Photo: Flickr

According to National Public Radio (NPR), health researchers have reported that the number of new cases of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has risen to over 34,000 since 2015. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that the virus peaked during the summer months of 2016, with more than 2,000 new cases being reported per week.

Because Zika is a relatively new epidemic, individuals living in Puerto Rico have not yet developed any immunity to the virus. Therefore, the transmission of the disease has been rampant.

In more recent months, the number of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has decreased to around 200 new cases per week. However, it continues to remain a serious problem within the region. Researchers from the CDC have confirmed that the number of Zika infections in Puerto Rico has far surpassed that of dengue virus infections. Dengue is another disease most commonly spread by mosquitoes.

The Zika virus is transmitted via the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. Pregnant women who become infected are especially at risk of the disease.  Those infected are likely to pass on the infection to the fetus during pregnancy, which can lead to serious birth defects. Additionally, sexual relations and blood transfusions can spread the virus. Common symptoms of Zika virus include fever, rash, headaches, muscle pain and red eyes.

As of 2017, over 1,000 confirmed cases of reported Zika infections in Puerto Rico were among pregnant women. Doctors at the High-Risk Clinic at the University of Puerto Rico have treated some of these infected women. They witnessed at least 14 cases of babies born with severe brain damage.

Notwithstanding, some babies may not begin to show signs of defects or abnormalities until several years after birth. This calls for babies to be closely monitored by health professionals for up to four or five years after birth.

The CDC has listed different recommendations for preventing contraction of the disease. These recommendations are especially important because of the lack of a vaccine for the disease. Some of their recommendations include wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when mosquitoes are around, ridding homes of any standing water and using insect repellents registered by the Environmental Protection Agency. They especially advise against pregnant women traveling into Puerto Rico or any other areas where the virus is present.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr

Four out of five Zika-infected individuals are asymptomatic. Nevertheless, Zika has become a major global health crisis because of the consequences in unborn babies. It is now well-established that the Zika virus significantly increases the risk of microcephaly in children born to Zika-infected mothers. However, because this link could not be immediately drawn, the significance of the Zika outbreak was initially underestimated. The Zika epidemic irreversibly damaged thousands of lives. Microsoft’s Project Premonition hopes to prevent diseases from reaching such proportions in the future.

Project Premonition involves a three-pronged approach to find, collect and detect. To find and collect the disease vectors, Microsoft will use drones that apply for advances in robotics, genomics, and cloud computing. These drones will be able to identify mosquito hotspots, which have historically been difficult and labor-intensive to identify due to their erratic nature. Before Microsoft’s Project Premonition, mosquito traps were unable to differentiate between mosquitoes and other insects; it required the expertise of human entomologists.

Now, there are traps equipped with smart cells that can identify mosquitoes based on their wing movements. These traps have already been successfully piloted in Texas. Mustapha Debboun, director of Harris County Public Health’s mosquito control division stated, “[Project Premonition’s traps were] really 1,000 times better” than what was previously used. The traps do much more than removing the need for meticulous study by a trained specialist; they also collect a wealth of environmental data that can be used to establish patterns. In addition, machine learning enables Microsoft’s Project Premonition traps to adapt and become more efficient as they collect the additional specimen.

Once the potential vectors have been captured, their genetic material can be converted into actionable data. Drawing from information in public sequence databases, Microsoft’s Project Premonition metagenomics pipeline would identify organisms, including bacteria and viruses, that contributed to the sample’s genetic material. The company plans to make the pipeline publicly available so that others can advance the technology.

Though Bill Gates is no longer at the helm, the company is showing a similar commitment to improving global health. Microsoft’s Project Premonition has already made incredible progress. If successful, it would provide far more than an ounce of prevention to outweigh the pound of cure another outbreak would require.

Rebecca Yu

Photo: Flickr

Top Diseases in Cuba

Following former President Obama’s efforts to reconcile and progress relations between Cuba and the U.S., travel opportunities to the previously forbidden country are now viable. Given that this has been uncharted territory for many decades, it is crucial that travelers are made aware of the top diseases in Cuba so as to take preventative measures before, during and after their travels.

Similar to any internationally planned trip, certain immunizations are required. If traveling to Cuba, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends vaccinations for Typhoid, Rabies and Hepatitis A and B. There are, however, current vector-borne diseases present in Cuba that cannot be vaccinated against, particularly mosquito-borne diseases.

Zika Virus

The ongoing Zika Virus is especially concerning in Cuba given its tropical location where mosquito-borne diseases are prevalent. A global update given on January 23 by the Public Health Agency of Canada affirmed the ongoing issue of Zika, emphasizing that pregnant women should continue to avoid travel to countries that have reported cases of the virus. Typical symptoms such as a fever, headache, conjunctivitis, skin rash, joint and muscle pain can be resolved with regular care.

Dengue Fever

In 1981, a Dengue Fever outbreak in Cuba took the lives of 158 people. Because of this and other past epidemics, thorough safeguarding to further prevent top diseases from growing have been implemented. Nonetheless, Dengue Fever is still a concern in Cuba without a vaccine to protect against it. Symptoms include a fever and headache and can lead to physical shock and hemorrhage.


Another top disease in Cuba, also carried by mosquitos and insects alike, is Chikungunya. Symptoms include fever, arthritis-like pain and skin rashes.

Thus far, the variance of these mosquito related diseases are vector-borne and do not have a vaccine to prevent or end the contagion. Because of this, the CDC recommends that residents and travelers take any preventative measure necessary to decrease the risk of exposure. Suggestions to protect oneself include caution around food and water sources, using repellent, covering exposed skin, keeping netting around living quarters, avoiding sharing body fluids and keeping away from animals.

After numerous cases of residents being infected with these diseases, Cuba has employed intense preventative measures. Mosquito control workers are assigned to routinely monitor households and local clinics have sent out 15,000 workers to help contain mosquito exposure.

Hepatitis A

Within Cuba are many areas that lack proper sanitation, consequently contaminating water and food sources with fecal matter. Exposure to this type of contamination has been known to cause Hepatitis A, weakening liver function as a result. Although there is a vaccine available for Hepatitis A, those that contract the disease can experience symptoms such as fever, jaundice and diarrhea for up to nine months.

The diplomatic break between Cuba and the U.S. led to a decline in Cuba’s healthcare system causing an insufficient supply of medicine and medical equipment. Infrastructure was also diminished which created impoverished conditions and a spike in water-borne diseases. As the United States and Cuba continue to establish camaraderie, a unified international effort could work toward alleviating the top diseases in Cuba.

Amy Williams

Photo: Flickr

Poor health is not only an effect of poverty but also is one of its root causes. This is particularly true for Central America’s second poorest country, Honduras, where 62.8% of the population lives in poverty. Many of the top diseases in Honduras are preventable; however, the fact that Honduras is not a first-world country with good access to health care makes illness more severe.

Without access to affordable health care, a lack of clean water and sanitation methods and a shortage of health centers, the poor are most susceptible to becoming ill from diseases in Honduras.

But what are the top diseases in Honduras?


Diabetes is the second-leading cause of death amongst Hondurans and occurs when a person’s pancreas fails to make enough insulin or does not use insulin correctly. As a result, people who suffer from diabetes often experience an increase in exhaustion, hunger, thirst, urination and weight loss.

For the 3.6 million people who live in rural areas, diabetes is a severe problem and one of the more menacing top diseases in Honduras. While it is an arguably treatable disease in first-world countries, diabetes can be fatal for those who do not live near clinics with adequate testing methods, or for those who do not live near clinics at all. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reveals that Latin American clinics rarely have the tools to diagnose diabetes early.

Cerebrovascular and Ischemic Diseases

Cerebrovascular disease causes 6.1% of mortalities in Honduras and refers to any condition that restricts blood flow to the brain, such as stroke, embolism or aneurysm. Ischemia includes coronary heart or artery diseases that usually result in heart attack.

Those who smoke, have high blood pressure, have diabetes, have high cholesterol or are obese are at higher risk of developing a cerebrovascular or ischemic disorder. This is especially concerning for Honduras, where the World Bank reports seeing a rise in overweight individuals eating high-fat diets with decreased levels of physical activity.

Lower Respiratory Diseases and Influenza

According to an NIH study, respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia, are the primary cause of death among children five years old or younger living in rural regions.

Tropical regions often see a higher frequency and hospitalization rate for the flu than more northern areas of the world. The study also showed that parainfluenza and influenza were the most prevalent viral agents amid the children surveyed. While the flu is a common and treatable occurrence in the developed world, that is not the case for resource-poor Honduras.


In 2015, there were 20,000 Hondurans living with HIV, 1,000 died due to AIDS and 18,000 children became orphans. Honduras’ most at-risk citizens include sex workers, men who have sex with men, inmates and the ethnic group known as the Garifuna.

An Afro-Caribbean community whose descendants were West African slaves, the Garifuna are not only marginalized from the rest of society but also more likely to live in poverty, experience gender discrimination and lack access to health care or education. These are all contributing factors as to why the Garifuna’s HIV prevalence rate is 4.5% — five times Honduras’ national rate.

Malaria, Dengue Fever and Zika

Some of the top diseases in Honduras are transmitted via mosquitos. Mosquito-born diseases are extremely common in most Latin American countries, including Honduras. Luckily, cases of malaria in Honduras decreased by 78% between 2000 and 2011 due to community awareness education. The government aims to eliminate malaria’s deadliest strain by next year.

In 2013, Honduras experienced a widespread outbreak of Dengue fever which resulted in death in five percent of all cases due to hemorrhage. Although Dengue is typical in urban environments, it is a real concern for Honduras’ rural regions riddled with trash sites and where water is not regularly delivered. With piles of trash and pools of stagnant water, rural Hondurans are at severe risk of being infected.

Currently, there is an outbreak of Zika in Honduras. While many people infected with the Zika virus do not show any symptoms, it can lead to neurological difficulties such as Guillan-Barré syndrome, which causes temporary paralysis, and microcephaly in babies with Zika-infected mothers. Honduras recently declared a state of emergency over Zika after noticing a spike in the infection rate.

Kristina Evans

Photo: Flickr

Private sector roundtableFormally started in 2014, The Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) has been an important facilitator of international discussion about global health issues, communicable disease threats and their solutions.

Now, the GHSA has launched a new initiative: the Private Sector Roundtable (PSRT). PSRT aims to bring privatized industries into the fight for a better standard of global health.

Headed by Johnson & Johnson, as well as the GE Foundation, the Private Sector Roundtable strives to organize the previously scattered efforts of the private sector in global health issues. Although private partners have participated in previous coordinated worldwide efforts, the PSRT will streamline those efforts to achieve maximum effect.

As was clear with the global response to Ebola, and as is now clear with the uptick in instances of Zika virus, timely responses are of the utmost importance in combatting global outbreaks. The GHSA hopes that the Private Sector Roundtable, and by extension the private sector, will adopt a “unique role” in developing a greater standard of global health.

They hope to accomplish this by investing in and developing new ways to combat the spread of outbreaks such as Zika and Ebola. As stated by the Global Health Security Initiative, “the mission of the PSRT is to mobilize industry to help countries prepare for and respond to health-related crises, and strengthen systems for health security.”

Two years ago, when Ebola outbreaks were at their highest, the rapid and efficient distribution of personal protection equipment proved vital in halting the spread of Ebola. Hopefully, the private sector will help in future fights by facilitating the development and distribution of the equipment and services that the world needs.

Although the Private Sector Roundtable is young and relatively small — 20 companies have pledged as members of the fledgling organization — the future Roundtable could be a powerful international cohort of private companies, aiming to accomplish public good.

Sage Smiley

Photo: Flickr