Play public health crisis computer game!

mystery in manresaIf you don’t deal with enough public health crises in your day job or if you’ve wondered what it might be like to figure out what’s ailing a developing country after a massive earthquake, the University of Roehampton, London Online has posted an online simulation of decision-making that goes into identifying and containing a disease outbreak under those circumstances.

Save Manresa” is “an interactive role-playing activity that provides an exciting window into the world of public health,” according to a news release from the university. It’s also aimed at enticing professionals to consider a career in public health — ideally after taking Roehampton’s new “100% online” Master of Public Health (MPH) programme.

The simulation/game is set in Manresa, a fictitious developing country of 6.4 million highly literate and largely white (or white-ish) people, located near the equator, with a tropical climate. The country has just suffered a 9.1 earthquake. A tent city of 30,000 is on the banks of the Samsone River — where there is no electricity, plumbing, running potable water, sewage removal or refrigeration. Chickens and goats roam freely. Fourteen people have died in the last 24 hours from the bug you have to identify — and the Manresans are suspicious of relief workers because there is a rumour that the outbreak was caused by the “foreign germs” they brought into the country.

manresa bulletinThe simulation provides news reports (see above), background information about the country, sample patient files, links to information from the World Health Organization about the three leading contenders for the cause of the outbreak (influenza, Salmonella and cholera). Once you’ve successfully diagnosed the cause of the outbreak, you’re asked to choose equipment and personnel to help contain it.

The whole thing is actually a little cheesy and unlikely to appeal to anyone who has even an inkling of what’s involved in an outbreak investigation, at home or abroad.

That said, I successfully identified and contained the outbreak — and I have the downloadable certificate to prove it.~TM


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