Organizers of a "stop Ebola" hackathon planned for next week at Mass. General Hospital say the Ebola scare at MGH highlights the need for more advances to combat the outbreak.
Elizabeth Bailey, director of the Consortium of Affordable Medical Technologies, told MassDevice.com that the group was "absolutely commited" to holding the hackathon next week.
"The recent potential case at MGH only highlights the need to bring innovations to help this most affected," Bailey told us via email. The patient was diagnosed today with malaria and an initial Ebola test came up negative, hospital officials said, but further testing is needed to rule out Ebola.
The 2-day Stop Ebola hackathon, at the hospital’s Center for Global Health, is set to commence Dec. 13. The event aims to "bring together some of the world’s brightest minds to develop essential, innovative and affordable health technologies that can better assist frontline health workers save the lives of patients affected with the Ebola virus.”
As is typical with hackathons, the 48-hour event will bring together clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs and end-users to develop ideas into "affordable prototypes that have the potential to transform the clinical care provided to Ebola patients in West Africa and around the world," according to the group’s website.
Yesterday, MGH officials announced that the hospital had admitted a patient suspected of having contracted the potentially deadly virus during travels in West Africa.
Dr. Paul Biddinger, the hospital’s director of emergency preparedness, told reporters at a press conference that the patient meets the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s definition of a "person under investigation" for possibly having the Ebola virus. The epidemic in Liberia, Mali, Sierra Leone and Guineau has already claimed more than 6,000 lives.
"This definition involves the possibility of travel to where Ebola is present, the possibility of exposure to that virus, and symptoms that are consistent with that virus," he said.