“TechCamp” in Kinshasa Prepares Provincial Health Officials to Prevent and Stop Disease Outbreaks

On October 30 and 31, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa hosted a two-day TechCamp, The Congos: Ground Zero for the Prevention of the Next Global Health Crisis. The TechCamp gathered 50 provincial health officials and communication experts from Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville to explore ways modern technology can inform and equip communities to prevent and stop outbreaks of Ebola, Yellow Fever, cholera, and other dangerous diseases.

Experts from the NGO community provided participants with practical uses of SMS, voice recognition, radio, and visual media technologies in mitigating the health crises. Participants shared best practices in previous health crises and methods for efficiently deploying technology to fight future outbreaks. TechCamp participants returned home with actionable ideas to improve health communication between provincial governments and the communities.

“I believe wholeheartedly in the potential for innovation and technology to solve the world’s most obstinate challenges,” said Jennifer Haskell, Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa. “I am also aware that what works in one country may not work in another. Therefore, our TechCamp is focused on results, with participants identifying their own real-world challenges and offering practical technologies to help solve them.”

Through U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States government provided more than $200 million in humanitarian aid, including health services, in 2017 to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. USAID and CDC provide health-related support to underserved rural and urban communities throughout both Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville.

TechCamps are a Department of State program that link civil society groups with technology experts and tools to apply tech solutions to real-world issues. Representatives from more than 3,000 organizations globally have taken part in a TechCamp since the program’s inception in 2010. Ilan Moss, Senior Communications Manager for New York-based NGO Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative, facilitated The Congos: Ground Zero for the Prevention of the Next Global Health Crisis.