Humanitarian logistics

Yesterday, I went to a great talk given by Dave Goldsman from Georgia Tech called “The Role of Simulation in Humanitarian Logistics.” The seminar was organized by my colleague Jill Hardin at VCU as part of the Operations Research Seminar Series. The talk summarized some of Dr. Goldman’s experiences in applying simulation to problems in health clinic management/flow and the spread of Guinea worms in Africa. Guinea worms are particularly interesting. Guinea worms are parasites that are contracted by drinking contaminated water. Once contracted, they eat their way out of the body and reproduce. Breaking the chain results in extermination. This can be easily accomplished by filtering water. However, because of the civil war in Sudan, many soldiers walk home, contracting Guinea worms along the way. Finding a strategy for targeting resources is important for completely eradicating the Guinea worm. The research was funded by the Carter Center, and apparently, Jimmy Carter’s work has nearly eradicated the Guinea worm already.

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