Since Ebola broke out in West Africa in March 2014, more than 13,000 people have been afflicted by the disease. To date, according to the most recent reports from the World Health Organization, 4,950 people, more than 30% of those affected, have succumbed to this hemorrhagic fever.
One of the biggest obstacles in the fight against Ebola has been a lack of capital. While the United States has made significant donations in the form of medical facilities and military assistance, with many other countries following suit, the effort overall has remained sorely underfunded and understaffed. With word breaking that the fight against the fatal disease has a powerful new benefactor, however, many are hopeful that the tide may indeed change.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made headlines recently when he and his wife donated $25 million in personal funds to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to aid their fight against the disease now rampaging across Africa. Zuckerberg has also taken to the social media giant to engage in the continued battle.
In a concerted effort with NetHope, a nonprofit organization, Facebook has donated approximately 100 satellite communications towers, towers which can effectively boost phone and internet signals, ensuring that communication remains open between aid workers in the affected regions. Satellite communication systems have long been used to link remote areas with isolated phone systems to the systems in areas with better infrastructure.
Facebook Launches New Donation Tool for Users Interested in Helping the Cause
Beyond the Zuckerberg family’s massive personal donation and the technological support of one of the world’s most powerful tech companies, Facebook has also engineered a new donation tool that its 1.4 billion users can use to help support relief efforts. The move is in response to troubling statistics which show that donations for organizations fighting Ebola are significantly lower than other recent crises, like 2011’s axis-tilting earthquake in Japan.
The interface is simple enough: a window appears at the top of users’ news feeds. The window reads, “You Can Help Stop Ebola. Donate to organizations working in West Africa so they can save lives and stop the outbreak.” Users are then given the option to “Learn More” or “Donate Now.”
Statistics on the efficacy of the donation tool aren’t yet available; however, if each user were to give only $1 to the cause, something Facebook no doubt realizes, it would mean $1.4 billion in direct financing to put an end to a crisis that has gone on for far too long.
Have you or do you plan to donate to Ebola efforts via Facebook? Tell us why or why not in the comments below.