June 14, 2005
Using Wikipedia for public health preparedness
One of the foundations of a good public health system is dissemination of information -- getting the knowledge about diseases and risks out to the public whom you are serving. There's lots of room for improvement and innovation in this area. That's why I was intrigued by an article on a outbreak reporting site -- Preparing for Influenza Pandemic at Wikipedia.
It turns out that people were using Wikipedia in the wake of the tsunami to get information. This has sparked an idea in the minds of the scientists who lay awake at night worrying about another flu pandemic (it's a fairly large club). Why not preemptively post information on the web about avian flu preparedness and prevention? The editors of ProMED-mail have started to bulk up the avian influenza entry and are encouraging other scientists to lend their expertise to the site.
Granted, the Web doesn't reach all the people, but I love the idea of using Wikipedia's strengths -- free, collaborative, fairly well known -- to help educate people around the world. That's cool!