Digital First Responders Fight Cholera in Haiti

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sick victims and families wait for treatment at St. Nicolas Hospital in St. Marc, north of Port-au-Prince on October 24, 2010, following a cholera outbreak. (THONY BELIZAIRE/AFP/Getty Images/Getty)

Maps and cholera outbreaks have been linked since at least 1854, a year when London residents were dying in droves from a serious outbreak of the disease. At that time, no one really understood how cholera spread, or how to stop it. But then a man named John Snow painstakingly mapped the outbreak – by knocking on doors, identifying cases, and marking them down with pencil and paper. His resulting discovery — that the disease was waterborne — saved thousands and thousands of lives. One hundred fifty years later a lot has changed, but in Haiti, Snow's technique is still using mapping technology to fight disease and it's spread.

Geo-tagged tweets and targeted text messages are on the vanguard of fighting Cholera in the new century, and the technology has grown by leaps and bounds in just the past year alone. 

Christine Thompson is part of the group that are helping to map Haiti's cholera outbreak. As president of, she organizes a group of digital first responders. Dr. Ian Rawson, managing director of Hospital Albert Schweitzer in Deschapelles, gives us an update on the cholera outbreak from a first-hand perspective.

Comments [1]

Catherine from Florida

Great information, its inspiring to see so many people helping and trying to stop the spread of cholera. I read about Dr. Snow in the 1800's going door to door. In Haiti there are teams of volunteers using motorcycles to help create the Healthmap, and digital volunteers from Humanity Road and Crisismappers helping to verify data that appears on the map. Health map also offers 'outbreaks near me' and iphone app to show disease outbreaks near you based on your GPS.

Thanks The Take Away for a great article

Nov. 05 2010 11:38 AM

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