With over 13,000 cases of Ebola reported around the world the deadly disease has become a global health crisis. After donating $25 million of his own money to help fight the spread of Ebola, Mark Zuckerburg has now taken to Facebook to recruit 1.3 billion friends to help in the effort. Similar to what the network did for Typhoon Haiyan relief in 2013, the social network is now involved in aiding Ebola efforts in three different ways.
The first is straightforward, donation-based fundraising. Over the next week, people will see a message at the top of their News Feed with an option to donate to three different nonprofits doing important work on the ground in West Africa: International Medical Corps, the Red Cross and Save the Children. To learn more about those organizations head over to Facebook’s Ebola prevention page. All of the money raised will go directly to the charities.
Facebook is also working with UNICEF to educate residents in affected and neighboring regions about Ebola symptoms and treatment. Messages from UNICEF will appear in News Feeds in the appropriate local language and focus on detection, prevention and treatment.
Finally, the social network is also working with NetHope to set up 100 mobile satellite communication terminals in remote areas of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to provide voice and data services for medical and aid workers. Focusing on areas where there is little to no existing communications capacity, NetHope will deploy these terminals to help medical and aid workers with contact tracing, communication, case management and community mobilization.
As we know, money can’t fix everything. It’s been noted that while fundraising is helpful, what the affected countries really need is more medical aid. Facebook’s initiatives don’t address this issue directly, but if one company is going to be able to really make some kind of impact we’re guessing it’s going to be the one where 1.3 billion people are involved.
What’s your take on Facebook’s Ebola prevention efforts? Do you think it will make a difference? Share your thoughts in the comments below.