To Solve the World’s Biggest Health Challenges, First Understand Where They’re Happening

Direct Relief’s Jessica White briefs an audience on how the organization’s team built a series of maps showing the health impacts of Hurricane Matthew last fall. The presentation was a part of the ESRI 2017 User Conference in San Diego this week. (Lara Cooper/Direct Relief)

A map can reveal the radius of an outbreak or the path of a major storm. Direct Relief’s mapping and research analysis team does this on a daily basis.  

Mapping is a key part of the organization’s efforts to direct charitable medicines to those who need it around the world.

This week, Direct Relief’s mapping team joined about 16,000 others committed to mapping in groundbreaking ways at the Esri 2017 User Conference

The conference brought together many different industries that use Esri’s mapping products, and nonprofits like Direct Relief had a significant presence at the event.

Direct Relief staff was on hand to showcase mapping work done on the Zika Virus outbreak, cholera outbreaks in the wake of Hurricane Matthew and other events with implications for global health.

The Esri UC 2017, Direct Relief staff briefed attendees on how a series of custom-made Esri Story Maps added deeper context to breaking news of Hurricane Matthew.

Direct Relief’s Andrew Schroeder and Jessica White presented to session audiences about maps they’d created, one of which was designed to showcase midwifery associations around the world and another set of maps that showed the health impacts of Hurricane Matthew.

Direct Relief created the Global Midwifery Mapmap for the International Confederation of Midwives to understand the geographic coverage of trained midwives around the world.

Direct Relief began using mapping about a decade ago to visualize its global network of partner healthcare facilities. That effort quickly expanded to include maps that account for a variety of socio-economic factors that contribute to poverty, poor health, and the susceptibility of communities to crisis events such as hurricanes or other natural disasters. 

“That brings in a broader analysis of how communities are affected by events and what they need,” said Schroeder.

Direct Relief has collaborated with Esri since the company began its nonprofit partnership program.

Direct Relief’s work in mapping has received broad recognition, including the Esri President’s Award and, more recently, the “Best Story Map” award. The story map award recognized the “Day in the Life of a Community Health Worker” series, which can be viewed here:

This Esri Story Map showcases a day in the life of health workers around the globe. The map won an award for best Esri Story Map in 2015.

For more of Direct Relief’s mapping work, visit the organization’s mapping page.