BroadReach Consulting, LLC

Building Africa’s Capacity to Predict and Respond to Disease Outbreaks

Lead Organization

BroadReach Consulting, LLC

Washington, D.C., United States


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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

What if we could stop the majority of the 50 infectious disease outbreaks affecting communities throughout Africa weekly, putting 1.32 billion Africans at risk, especially women, refugees, and persons with disabilities? Epidemics create a vicious cycle where basic health services cease to function and disrupt the social cohesion and peace within communities and across countries. Likewise, the economic impacts are devastating – the estimated impact of the 2014-2015 W.Africa Ebola outbreak is $53bn.Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies can powerfully contribute to breaking this cycle. We propose to scale up a solution that harnesses the best of 4IR innovations to build a collaborative, continental data network and predictive analytics platform to enable the earliest detection and prediction of epidemics in Africa.Our solution will help reduce epidemic-related illness and death as we scale up our approach across Africa within five years and create a future pathway to expand it globally.

Problem Statement

Infectious diseases cost the lives of 5 million Africans annually - with 1.32 billion Africans at risk of epidemics today and double that number at risk by 2050. There is a triple threat of re-emerging diseases previously controlled (measles), newer diseases causing larger, more frequent outbreaks (Ebola), and future diseases yet to be identified. Disparities and inequities persist that make some more vulnerable, including refugees, internally displaced persons, women, young children, the elderly, and persons living with disabilities. Global travel, tourism and trade, climate change, wars/conflicts, inadequate health resources, lack of political will, and encroachment of wildlife habitat help propel outbreaks and epidemics in Africa that can easily spread to the rest of the world. Epidemics create a vicious cycle where other health services cease to function. Likewise, the economic impacts are devastating – the impact of 2014-2015 West Africa Ebola outbreak alone is estimated at $53bn.Currently disease surveillance data in African countries is insufficient to detect and respond to outbreaks. Earliest detection of outbreaks and providing frontline health care workers (HCWs) with the right information for action is critical in breaking this cycle.A wealth of new technologies exists, but they require a thoughtful and collaborative effort to combine them with systems, structures, public health actors, and communities to solve this problem. We propose to scale up a solution that harnesses the best of African and international scientific expertise together with technological innovations and communities’ participation to reliably monitor, detect, and predict epidemics.

Solution Overview

Our solution builds on the momentum of committed African public health actors, our collaborative partnerships, technology innovations, and our successes in bringing integrated data analytics to scale in order to improve reliable monitoring, earliest detection, predicting, and responding of epidemics/outbreaks in Africa. Our solution will have an extensive impact in African countries, benefiting up to 1.3 billion Africans at risk of illness, disability, and death due to outbreaks. We will achieve this by (1) analyzing existing health data pipelines and relevant non-healthcare data (weather/climate, animal diseases, social media); (2) use this analysis to enhance, develop and apply predictive algorithms for targeted infectious diseases; (3) configure and maintain an integrated data analytics platform that supports disease risk and threat monitoring; (4) create insights through this integrated data analytics platform; and (5) generate practical, deployable recommendations based on these insights and support related change management capacity building to inspire preventative and intervening actions to be taken across health decision makers. We will measure progress through monitoring of milestones achieved in each phase (and course correcting when needed) in providing earlier detection and forecasting of selected epidemic-prone diseases. Governments will benefit from increased cost effectiveness in public health resource allocation. HCWs will benefit through minimizing pathogen exposure, thus enabling continuity in essential routine health services. We will deliver broad impact on the population across geographies by averting lives lost, reducing suffering of those infected and affected, enhancing global health security, and actively contributing to a safer, healthier, and more prosperous Africa.

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