Using Technology to Fight Ebola

friends-of-the-congoAt last week’s Chi Hack Night, Kambale Musavuli, consultant at ThoughtWorks and spokesperson for Friends of the Congo, talked about his work in providing support to African techies at the frontline of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

The Friends of the Congo is a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC. The Friends of the Congo was established in 2004 to work in partnership with Congolese to bring about peaceful and lasting change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire.)

Thoughtworks is a global software and consulting company focused on software design and delivery founded and based in Chicago. Thoughtworks has over thirty offices in thirteen counties. Part of Thoughtworks’ mission is to is to better humanity through software and help drive the creation of a socially and economically just world.

In November 2014, a team from ThoughtWorks Porto Alegre (Brazil), got involved in a mission to help tackle a crisis and more ThoughtWorks offices got involved as the crisis deepened. The team ran a hackathon to prototype possible solutions as well as worked with non-profit organizations like Save the Children to build apps like Ebola Ghana Alert and mHero.

One of the solutions that came out of the hackathon and by talking with workers on the ground, was a way to perform patient intake using iPads – which helped in an environment where wearing full protection gear made it difficult to use traditional pen and paper.

One of the things that Kambale was quick to point out that tech by itself can’t solve the problem. You have to be on the ground and understand what’s going on inside the nations affected. One of the lessons learned was that teams had to be prepared to work regionally and speak languages of not only the host country but their neighbors as well.

You can learn more about Kambale’s efforts at