Innovative Online Library for Health Action in Humanitarian Relief

Organisation: Medical Mission Institute

Location: Germany

Type of grant: Core – invention

Status: Completed

MEDBOX is an innovative online library aimed at improving the quality of healthcare in humanitarian action, worldwide.

Humanitarian health workers around the world can act effectively if they have access to the necessary tools. The real-time availability of relevant and up-to-date medical literature is often imperative and yet challenging to access in the context of humanitarian assistance. MEDBOX collates the increasing number of professional guidelines, textbooks and practical documents on health action available online and brings these into the hands of aid workers: when they need it, where they need it. Thematic toolboxes have been developed for special needs (e.g. cholera toolbox, or the Typhoon Haiyan toolbox). Furthermore, innovative, user-friendly checklists will be developed for individual use, adding value to timely and quality humanitarian interventions. Users can also create individual favourite lists with the feature “my own MEDBOX”.

Challenges the project will address:

The challenge MEDBOX aims to address entails better applying the existing body of medical and humanitarian knowledge and making this more readily accessible because:

• Most disasters happen without raising international attention or triggering donations. Local authorities and organisations are often challenged in their response, especially when only locally available resources are at hand. MEDBOX will facilitate quick and easy access to standards and guidelines, as well as the relevant tools needed to design quality interventions in health action.

• Access to specific thematic content is crucial and is now increasingly possible with internet access through mobile devices. MEDBOX’s development of toolboxes such as the Polio TOOLBOX created for the Syria outbreak, or the Cholera TOOLBOX allow real-time access to relevant knowledge during specific emergencies. The most recent example is the Typhoon Haiyan TOOLBOX.

• In humanitarian assistance, the rapid assessment of a situation is important to cater for the right tailored response. MEDBOX will develop innovative generic checklists and survey tools that will allow actors to run quality assessments and evaluations.

Innovation Factor:

Despite increasing calls for quality and accountability in humanitarian action and the many tools freely available online, there remains potential to integrate these aspects and deliver them into the hands of humanitarian actors. To date, no provider is focused on collating such knowledge and making it readily available. The humanitarian landscape is changing and local actors will be required to increasingly take charge of interventions. For this reason, their capacity needs to be strengthened.

MEDBOX will have an indirect impact beyond humanitarian action. For actors working in the field of linking relief, rehabilitation and development, MEDBOX will be a common tool for all.

Added Value:

MEDBOX aims at improving the quality of humanitarian assistance, impact, effectiveness, efficiency and therefor contributing to accountability towards the people served, as well as towards host governments, relief organisations and donors alike.

MEDBOX adds value to health action in humanitarian assistance through its huge database, toolboxes and innovative checklists, contributing to the dissemination and usage of standards in humanitarian practise.

With increasing internet access largely utilised through mobile phones (as has been seen in Haiti and more recently in the Philippines), mobile technologies will most certainly be the major source for health care information in humanitarian aid in the years to come.

Key Deliverables / Impact:

MEDBOX will provide:

• An interactive online-library platform

• Toolboxes

• Innovative checklists and survey toolsWe envision that in the future, MEDBOX and its innovative tools will be the instrument to use in acute humanitarian emergencies.

Elrha is a registered charity in England and Wales (1177110).

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