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COMP professor develops Ebola training module

by Rodney Tanaka

October 10, 2014

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College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific Assistant Professor Maryam Othman, MD, MPH, collaborated on a free Ebola health education module that is being distributed by WiRED International to those areas hardest hit by the disease outbreak.

WiRED International, a San Francisco-based nonprofit health education organization, responded quickly in early May when the illness first began to spread, delivering its free Ebola health education module in both English and French to grassroots audiences in Guinea, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Liberia and the Ivory Coast.

Ebola, previously known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare and deadly disease caused by infection with one of the Ebola virus strains. Ebola can cause disease in humans and nonhuman primates, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Othman, director of COMP’s Division of Global and Community Health and a member of WiRED International’s Board, helped create the training module along with a team of eight people. The modules are interactive learning tools that use simple, straightforward language and appealing infographics to teach the cause, prevention and treatment of an illness. The material is made available through WiRED’s website, and a portable version can be downloaded for use on laptops at

“Preparing people—helping them understand prevention—can be key in combating any epidemic. WiRED International and our partners pledge to stay ahead of the curve by training people in unaffected areas of Africa in advance of any Ebola intrusion,” Othman said. “Familiarizing people in all communities — from small villages to urban districts — will help prevent the spread of Ebola. The key to stopping rapid spread of the illness is to teach populations how to ready themselves and their families to avoid contracting the illness.”

In addition, WiRED has teamed up with Caritas International, the global humanitarian arm of the Roman Catholic Church, to distribute the program to health professionals in the field throughout West Africa, to further extend the reach of this health initiative.

“Everyone around the world is reading about this crisis, but many people don’t understand what Ebola is, or how it is transmitted, treated or prevented,” said retired U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Adam M. Robinson Jr., MD, who served as the 36th surgeon general of the Navy and is on the WiRED Board of Directors. “WiRED’s training modules can play an important role in filling in the information gap and helping communities help themselves to combat this scourge.”

The peer-reviewed Ebola module, as well as more than 300 others on a wide variety of diseases, is available to anyone free of charge by accessing WiRED’s Community Health Education e-library at

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