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Duke Students Tackle Ebola Epidemic

Junior Karishma Popli brainstormed ways to stop Ebola 

Duke junior Karishma Popli has been passionate about exploring global health issues since arriving at the university as a freshman. After hearing about the Ebola outbreak killing thousands in West Africa and a handful of cases arising in the United States, Popli felt it was crucial to examine the epidemic.“I think it’s something everybody should be involved with, trying to come up with new, innovative solutions to solve challenges such as this one,” said Popli, who is double majoring in neuroscience and global health.Popli joined 160 other students to take part in the Duke Ebola Innovation Challenge hosted by the Fuqua School of Business. The students volunteered their spare time to explore ways to improve care for those infected by Ebola and to stop the spread of the disease.Smalls teams of students had less than a week to create an idea that strengthens the capacity of health care workers and improves the ability to track and communicate.A panel of judges weighed in on the different concepts students developed, including re-enlisting Ebola survivors to become health care workers.“Give them an opportunity to elevate their status in society, give them new money opportunities and they have a lower chance of getting infected,” said sophomore Priyanka Venkannagari, an economics major.Another idea included a cell phone app aimed at monitoring the personal protective equipment of health care workers.“So we can track that and make sure health workers are receiving the proper information, using the correct equipment so that we can monitor which areas need more service and attention,” Popli said.Some of the top ideas from Duke will get submitted to USAID’s national call to action, where they could possibly receive funding.