Find the Numbers!

This is a story about hunting for the numbers, the origins of those numbers, and the full story of the Ebola crisis in Western Africa.

Disclaimer: I do not have the full story of the crisis, but I am trying to track down the numbers I need to explain what is going on a little better and how we can mitigate risk through automated contact tracing. This is part of measuring impact of the start up I started working for in October.

For now, the narrative around ebola is constantly changing. With each article, you see a new layer. The UNFPA offers information about the children and women at risk during pregnancy and childbirth from the crisis and crumbling health systems.

NPR digs into some of the trust issues and limited access to healthcare facilities that are a reality for many people in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

We hear about new outbreaks in Mali when sick patients go untested for ebola and cross borders…

We hear the numbers of the death toll with each article that goes up, hoping to provide the reader with context in a situation more complicated than any of us can begin to image from afar.

From the floods of articles and coverage and organizations presenting their side of the story, their role in recovery and crisis management, and the climbing death tolls… it’s hard to understand the full network of people interacting and offering support on the ground.

This is partially why I am spending some time this week digging through numbers. How many contact tracers are there? Where are they concentrated? How many doctors do we see in the field and who are they answering to? What organizations have their hands in different processes, etc.

It’s a map of social networks, resources, and… the limits of communication between them.

[Hopefully] more to come!


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Tea, Tequila, and informal economy enthusiast.

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