Year In Review



As WiRED looks forward to a busy new year, it seems a good time to reflect on our work in 2012 and share some plans for exciting new projects that will expand our reach in war-torn and developing communities worldwide.


WiRED's new Community Health Information (CHI) program has met with great success in the past year, using the latest technology to educate entire communities about their most urgent health care needs. Our volunteers have traveled to remote regions, including developing communities in the Peruvian Amazon, Kenya, Nicaragua, and Honduras to set up CHI computer centers. This includes installing computers loaded with WiRED's health care e-library and training local staff to operate a grassroots health education center. Our CHI centers become a central part of many community health programs and are often the only reliable source of health care information for people in developing regions. In many places we serve, grassroots audiences and medical professionals have no Internet access. Since these audiences are often in greatest need of medical information, we have designed all our training programs to run offline.


WiRED's team of program developers creates the computer-based tutorials and training materials used in our CHI centers. Physicians research and write our modules, medical editors review the content, imagers match the content to illustrative graphics, and technicians create the interactive programs. The lifesaving benefits of these programs can be seen around the world. Through WiRED's CHI program, over a million Kenyans in remote locations have seen and heard HIV/AIDS-prevention messages. In September, as WiRED volunteers were setting up a new CHI center in Nicaragua, there was an outbreak of dengue fever in the region. People were immediately drawn to WiRED's module on the prevention and treatment of this life-threatening disease.


In the small village of Santa Maria de Nieva, located in the Peruvian Amazon jungle, WiRED's ambitious work continues. Our CHI center is educating the community about health issues that are critical to this population, including maternal and child health, nutrition, water-borne illnesses and treatments, Oral Rehydration Therapy, a filtration process for polluted water, and many other topics. We are also exploring ways to stock the CHI library on portable devices, so visiting villagers can take these health education programs with them.


WiRED is also working with doctors around the world to develop a series of global health care projects. Earlier this year, we teamed up with physicians in Australia to create an echocardiography curriculum to train doctors and nurses serving the world's poorest people. This ECHO program is part of a larger rheumatic heart disease (RHD) project that WiRED is also coordinating. RHD is a condition that kills thousands of children annually but which simple detection can prevent, so WiRED has prepared specially targeted programs for parents, teachers, and students. We have assisted Children's Heart Link to advance post-operative care for children undergoing heart surgery. In 2013, we will also be conducting RHD research in Kenya.


Additionally, WiRED is partnering with U.S. physicians who work with the nonprofit organization China California Heart Watch (China Cal) to develop a series of educational modules that are training more than 10,000 rural doctors in the impoverished Yunnan Province of China. We are making our entire CHI library available for this program and are working with China Cal to address special needs in China, such as infant cardiac examinations with a focus on heart murmurs caused by congenital heart defects.


WiRED is working with an international team to explore the possibility of expanding our CHI program to Armenia in 2013. Poverty and high unemployment are taking a toll on the population, and many people in Armenia cannot afford medical care and have no reliable source of health care information. As a result, they are turning to ineffective "folk cures" like drinking water from volcanic hot springs and brewing teas from plants and grasses in their gardens. If funding can be secured for this project, five pilot centers are proposed for the developing communities of Amasia, Chambarak, Gavar, Noyemberyan, and Vardenis. Once these five pilot centers are successfully launched, additional CHI centers will be planned throughout Armenia. Training materials are already being translated into Armenian, and voiceovers will be provided for people who cannot read. Funding is needed to make this project possible.


In 2013, WiRED will also seek to create a center that can accommodate the increasing requests we are receiving for health information. This proposed center will enable us to support organizations that want to develop training tools and to distribute all the resulting information as widely as possible in underserved regions. When appropriate, we will work on content with organizations or tap the expertise of our in-house staff and partner medical institutions. Using the latest interactive computer programs, animations, videos, sound effects, and other media, we will be able to develop a comprehensive series of training tools to catalogue and share, online and offline, without cost to eligible health and medical organizations serving developing regions. The advantage of this proposed center is that for little or no cost to the requesting institution, WiRED will be able to provide an expert source for the development and distribution of professional health and medical training programs.


An example from our work in 2012 illustrates the benefit of the proposed center. Earlier this year, U.S. cardiologists based in Yunnan Province, China, asked WiRED about training material on hypertension. Coincidentally, we had just updated our hypertension module. The doctors previewed and liked it, and at their request, WiRED prepared the module in Mandarin. Within weeks of the initial inquiry, we sent the completed module electronically to Yunnan. That program now serves as the training foundation for 10,000 rural physicians in China. Then the same U.S. cardiologists wanted to teach rural doctors in Yunnan about infant heart murmurs. They wrote the content, and WiRED constructed the new module, adapting the content, adding illustrations, sound files, and quizzes, and then we electronically sent the finished training module back to Yunnan. That module now trains thousands of Chinese physicians.


In September, WiRED brought an English-language version of the heart murmur module to Kenya, where physicians now use it to learn about the detection of heart murmur in infants. So, a module written in China, developed by WiRED, now serves doctors in Africa and soon in many other regions. This brief anecdote exemplifies three elements of WiRED's quick response to information requests: (1) we provided a translated version of an existing module; (2) working closely with experts in the field, we created a new module rich with interactive components; and (3) a module created for one region was quickly made available in another region. This clearinghouse function is central to the proposed center.


Our work at WiRED would not be possible without the dedication and expertise of our wonderful volunteers and stellar Board of Directors. We are honored to be working with such a distinguished Board, which includes physicians, senior executives, university presidents, professors, and former senior U.S. government officials, such as a former U.S. Surgeon General. This year we mourned the loss of our dear friend and invaluable Board member, Bob Ohrenschall, who served for many years as WiRED's first Board chair. We thank all of our amazing trustees for contributing so much to our work.


— New Board Members —

In 2012, we were honored to welcome these talented individuals to the WiRED team:


Governing Board
Advisory Board
Honorary Board

Your donation to WiRED will go to work immediately to improve health for the world's neediest populations by setting up CHI centers in the Peruvian Amazon, fighting heart disease in the Yunnan Province of China, teaching expectant mothers to care for themselves and their babies in Kenya, preventing cholera outbreaks in disaster areas, stopping the spread of infectious disease in war-torn refugee camps, and much more.