U.S. Statement by Ambassador Hamamoto on Ebola at ITU PP-14

U.S. statement on Ebola at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference (PP-14)

Busan, South Korea
October 27, 2014

Thank you Chair/Secretary-General

On behalf of the United States, I would like to thank the ITU and Secretary-General Touré for organizing this discussion on the role of ICTs in combatting Ebola.  The United States wholeheartedly supports these efforts, and as a leading member of the international coalition fighting this devastating disease, we encourage all ITU members to join us in implementing an effective and coordinated response.  This is a global problem that requires urgent action by the entire ITU membership.

The U.S. is fully invested in a whole-of-government response involving multiple federal departments and agencies, including the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Departments of Defense, State, and Health and Human Services (HHS).

Our response in West Africa leverages a civilian-led effort by the United States that calls upon the unique capabilities of the U.S. military to help bring the epidemic under control, making this the largest-ever U.S. response to a global health crisis.  These efforts include the deployment of key medical and expert personnel, construction of a hospital for infected medical workers, and overseeing the construction of up to seventeen 100-bed Ebola Treatment Units (ETUs) in Liberia.

ICTs and broadband connectivity are an integral and indispensable part of this effort, enabling us to address the complex coordination and communication challenges, and we believe ICTs will play an increasingly important role in coordinating an effective global response.

ICTs provide a platform of global scale that allows the use of social media and other innovative communication applications to reach vulnerable populations in a way that has never before been possible. The United States is also actively engaged in broad efforts to inform, educate, and better equip communities to protect themselves and their loved ones against Ebola.

U.S. officials and military personnel deployed to West Africa to assist with response efforts are using ICTs to support identification, contact tracing, data management, laboratory testing, public awareness, and health education.  We have also deployed experts to non-affected border countries to assess and strengthen Ebola preparedness.

We are utilizing ICTs in innovative ways in partnership with other stakeholders in the fight against Ebola.

A Grand Challenge

  • For example, the United States is pairing with the Government of Sweden to launch a new initiative called, “Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge” which is a platform to crowd-source and incubate innovative ideas to improve delivery of care and stem the spread of disease.
  • I encourage everyone to participate online at ebolagrandchallenge.net/.

NetHope

  • Additionally, the United States has recently increased our funding support for NetHope in order to improve information sharing between organizations responding to the outbreak throughout the region.
  • These efforts will strengthen our key clinical and logistical work and enable us to better collect digital data using smart devices in the field.  Information will be shared via online platforms to collectively provide situational awareness for members and partner organizations.
  • To date, the group has reached its rapid response target of donor commitments to deploy a Broadband Global Area Network that will dramatically improve connectivity in affected areas.
  • I encourage all members to visit www.CIDI.org for more information and to contribute.

[Chair/Secretary General], fellow delegates, the United States looks forward to working urgently with all of you to utilize ICTs to their full potential in halting the progress of  this deadly disease.  We haven’t a moment to lose.

Thank you.