U.S. statement on Ebola at ITU Plenipotentiary Conference 2014

International Telecommunication Union Plenipotentiary Conference
U.S. statement on Ebola at ITU PP-14
Busan, South Korea
October 27, 2014
Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto
As prepared for delivery

On behalf of the United States of America, I would like to thank the ITU and Secretary-General Toure for organizing this opportunity to discuss the role of ICTs in combating Ebola.  The United States supports these efforts and encourages all ITU members to do more to implement an effective and coordinated response to eliminate this devastating disease.  This is an important issue, and one that requires action by the entire membership.

The United States is leading an international coalition to stamp out this virus at its source in West Africa.  This response leverages a civilian-led whole-of-government effort that calls upon the unique capabilities of the U.S. military to help bring the epidemic under control.  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.  The United States is also supporting efforts to inform, educate, and better equip communities to protect themselves and their loved ones against Ebola.

ICTs are an integral and indispensable part of this effort.  Disaster responders from the United States and international partners are underscoring the critical importance of broadband connectivity and access to ICTs to support the mitigation of Ebola.  Though these efforts are in the early stage,  we expect an exponential increase in the number of ICT-related appeals and deployments to support efforts on the ground.

U.S. officials and military personnel have been deployed to West Africa to assist with response efforts and are using ICTs to support surveillance, contact tracing, data management, laboratory testing, and health education.  We have also deployed other experts to non-affected border countries, including Cote d’Ivoire, to conduct assessments of Ebola preparedness in those countries. This deployment constitutes the largest overseas mission by the U.S. Center for Disease Control to date.

Mr. Chair, I would like to announce two new initiatives that are using ICTs in the fight against Ebola.

A Grand Challenge

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

NetHope

  • Second, the United States has recently augmented our funding support for the non-governmental organization NetHope, which is mobilizing activities to improve information sharing between organizations and entities responding to the outbreak in Ebola-stricken countries.
  • These efforts will strengthen our ability to continue key clinical and logistical activities and 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 securing donor commitments to deploy Broadband Global Area Networks that will dramatically improve connectivity in affected areas.
  • I encourage all members to visit CIDI.org for more information and information about contributing.