Reducing COVID-19 Spread and Saving Lives through Education

Education Tech Featured Health Tech

Over the past few months, we have seen the technology community aggressively take a united stance in helping businesses and families manage during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Some have seen widespread success – like some of the video conferencing and unified communications vendors that have helped companies rapidly adopt teleworking strategies.  Others have been developing solutions to help businesses re-open with contact tracing, people counting, temperature monitoring, and testing technologies.  It will all be necessary if there’s any hope of containing the virus, especially considering what we have already seen in many parts of the country in terms of people simply ignoring distancing and other safety standards as restrictions are lifted.

But, while much of the developed world is working on their phased re-openings after three-month lockdowns, people in developing markets may be in a very different situation, and certainly don’t have access to the same media-driven news, education, and commentary we have been inundated with.   They may not have access to the simple necessities to easily combat the spread of the coronavirus, like soap and healthcare facilities.  The problem is that the virus doesn’t stop at border crossing, and doesn’t discriminate based on geographic, cultural, socioeconomic, or other variables.

Without access to the modern technology that can help with testing, monitoring, treatment, tracking, and communication, though, these factors do put developing markets at inherently greater risk of increased spread.

There is one technology, though, that is prevalent, even in developing markets – the smartphone. 

“The communities we work with may not have sinks, soap, and medical infrastructure, but 34% of young adults in Kenya do own a smartphone,”

Well Beyond Founder and CEO Sarah Evans.

Well Beyond is a consulting and technology company that has been building an app to support communities in developing countries to improve and increase their clean water supplies.  Now, it is doing exactly what its URL says – it’s going well beyond water.  As several companies have, it saw an opportunity to adapt its solution for COVID-19, and has created a mobile app to maximize WASH (Water and Sanitation Hygiene) training and procedures in the communities it supports.  The app-based education includes a variety of modules featuring disease transmission prevention, proper handwashing instruction, making your own handwashing stations and facemasks, and other ways to disinfect.  By increasing education and awareness, Well Beyond is hoping to prevent mass infections that could be devastating in these areas.

“We can use those smartphones to train and guide these communities to better protect them from the spread of the coronavirus – even in the most vulnerable places.”

Sarah Evans
Training App Home Screen

App features designed to educate and support community prevention initiatives include:

  • WASH Training & COVID-19 Education – Equip communities with an array of virtual materials, from hand wash training videos and quizzes about disease transmission, to instruction on disinfection methods.
  • Community Checklists & Tutorials – Communities will be guided through modules and tutorials for creating temporary handwashing stations, making their own soap, facemask and other actions they can take to further improve handwashing rates.
  • Real-Time Chat Support –Community members can chat remotely with staff for personalized WASH recommendations and support.  For any medical assistance required, the organization will refer communities to local healthcare workers or medical NGOs.
  • Administrative Portal & Impact Measurements –Well Beyond’s non-profit partners will be able to track training completions and collect data on the solution’s success, measure impact, and help the company improve the resources it has developed.

“To put it into perspective, this isn’t about teaching people to wash their hands long enough; it’s about building the sink and making the soap to do it with.”

Kathryn Bergmann, COO, Well Beyond

The World Health Organization says good sanitation and hygiene can reduce illness in rural areas by as much as 64%.  Considering what we know about how contagious COVID-19 is, increased education can make a difference.  Well Beyond believes this adjustment in its focus and the access to information it is providing in these developing communities will save lives. It’s easy to forget not everyone has access to the same technology and healthcare resources, especially when there are so many companies building solutions using artificial intelligence, infrared cameras, contactless technology, LiDAR, and UV-C lights, and much more, to help businesses safely re-open.  But, the technology so many of us take for granted – our smartphones – can have perhaps a bigger overall impact with the help of organizations like Well Beyond, simply by enabling access to information and helping communities develop appropriate response strategies.

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