Companies have long been strong supporters of health issues, from breast cancer to AIDS, providing much-needed support and awareness to these important causes. Yet, recently we’ve seen more organizations answer the call of duty when urgent health outbreaks have occurred. In the midst of the Ebola health crisis, nearly 90 major American companies provided more than $50 million in cash and in-kind contributions to support relief and recovery efforts, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Now, as the Zika virus outbreak continues to gain momentum, one company is stepping up to provide not only monetary donations, but business assets to fight the spread of this destructive virus.
In the wake of the World Health Organization's declaration of Zika virus as a Public Health Emergency in February, Google made a major announcement on Thursday to provide “funds, tools and manpower to help fight the disease.” In addition to a $1 million grant to UNICEF to “raise awareness, reduce mosquito populations, support the development of diagnostics and vaccines, and work with communities and governments to prevent Zika transmission,” Google is lending its own business acumen to advance progress. Google engineers, designers and data scientists have joined forces with UNICEF to build a platform to “process data from different sources in order to visualize potential outbreaks” so regions can identify risk of transmission and governments can know where and how to focus time and resources. Google has also made it easier for individuals to learn about Zika. Now, information on the Zika virus can be found in 16 different languages through Google Search, with “an overview of the virus, symptom information, and Public Health Alerts” that are updated in real-time. Google is also partnering with YouTube creators such as Sesame Street to raise awareness and provide information through their channels.
The conversation around the Zika virus is increasing at an astounding rate. According to Google, there has been a 3,000 percent increase in the global search interest of the Zika virus since November. Now, as a company “whose mission is helping people find information,” Google is uniquely positioned to not only help individuals learn about the virus but also provide critical resources toward understanding and tracking the virus moving forward. As more organizations step up to fight Zika with donations and support, the world will get closer to preventing this growing epidemic.