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Welcome to the OpenIDEO Fighting Ebola Challenge! On this page you will learn about the challenge itself, the history of the epidemic, how we can make a difference together and how you can participate. Ready to dive in? Start by clicking on the "Research" and "Ideas" phases above and learn about what your fellow community members have been adding to the conversation. New to OpenIDEO? Find out how it works below!


Faced with the escalating Ebola epidemic and the need for a coordinated global response, on September 26th, 2014, President Obama called upon everyone, together, to design the next solution.

In response to this crisis, USAID and partners launched Fighting Ebola: A Grand Challenge for Development to help healthcare workers on the front lines provide better care and stop the spread of Ebola. This initiative encompasses two parts: t‪he first is on this OpenIDEO platform, where we invite our global community to participate in collaboration and brainstorming to generate actionable solutions to the Ebola epidemic. During this process strong ideas may be encouraged to apply for funding in subsequent components of the Grand Challenge for Development by USAID and partners.

You don’t have to be an expert in healthcare or infectious disease to contribute your insights and ideas  in fact, some of the brightest solutions may be found in the most unthinkable corners.

To find out how you can participate, check out our Onboarding Page.
The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness  often fatal if untreated. The current outbreak in West Africa is the largest and most complex in the virus’s history, compounded by the region’s weak health systems and infrastructural support.

Ebola spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people. Due to insufficient resources, health workers have been infected while treating patients with the disease, often occurring through close contact when precautions are not strictly practiced. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) worn by healthcare workers becomes incredibly hot, especially in humid environments, making it essential for health care workers to take multiple breaks. Each time the PPE is put on or taken off, the risk of infection increases.
There have been few major innovations in PPE in decades. Additionally, health care workers are facing a lack of adequate health centers, difficulty in tracking person-to-person transmission, the absence of rapid point-of-care diagnostics and a need to accomodate traditional burial ceremonies involving direct contact with a deceased body. All of these factors play a role in the outbreak’s escalation. Beyond the difficulties faced by healthcare workers, those in need of care can be reluctant to seek it in the first place. They often encounter mandated procedures for sterile environment and isolation, which turn normal, human interactions such as caring for a sick person and holding a loved one’s hand, into situations that are dehumanizing and fear-ridden.

For more information, check out Ebola 101 and our Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Guidelines & Information.

The current challenge affects all of us on a global scale and equally requires us to put forth our collaborative efforts and design actionable solutions. Now is the time. 

Regardless of your background, experience or knowledge of Ebola, your innovative thinking is necessary to address this crisis. Because of the shortened scope of this challenge we simultaneously ran a four-week Research and Ideas phase, which led into our  Highlights phase. We invite you to continue to refine and collaborate, turning these ideas into Impact.

What are we fighting for? Let's remind ourselves and take a look at Cephas's Survival Story.
New to OpenIDEO? Find out how it works and read about our guiding principles to open innovation.

In the Research phase we invited you to contribute stories, photos, videos, articles and data around the Ebola outbreak, providing you with some Inspiration Tools to get you started. During the Ideas phase we encouraged you to contribute tangible ideas and actionable solutions that might mitigate the challenges related to the epidemic. We also provided you with some Ideation Tools to jump-start the brainstorming process. The two phases have now closed and led into our Highlights phase, which showcase the power of our collaborative community, including submissions that are innovative, human centered and rapidly deployable in the fight against Ebola. We invite you to continue to refine and collaborate, turning these ideas into impact.

On OpenIDEO we believe that innovative thinking happens when we bring together dynamic, global perspectives. Let's invite friends, family, peers and relevant organizations to join the conversation. Share with your networks  [ tweet ].

Photo attributions: Morgana Wingard; Chris Austin
Video footage attribution: Lane Goodman
This challenge is now over.
434 contributions
602 ideas