GENEVA, 26 February 2016 – Last Thursday, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) convened a global teleconference for its member National Societies to discuss the Zika virus outbreak. The rapid spread of the virus and the potential for health impacts makes this virus an urgent matter. The meeting was held in six languages to maximize the exchange of critical information.
IFRC conducted the meeting on a platform called ‘the Presence Talk!’, which is powered by ZipDX virtual meeting technology. By convening the meeting by telephone, IFRC was able to rapidly and cost-effectively coordinate with its membership on the preparedness and response to the Zika virus.
The teleconference included participants representing many of the IFRC’s 190 National Societies spread across six continents, with the presenters located in Geneva, London and Panama. After the presentations, participants were given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions. Simultaneous interpretation was provided in Arabic, English, French, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish and the meeting was recorded in all of the languages for those who were not able to attend the call.
Allowing each National Society to interact with the group in their own language has proven to be a key enabler for thorough, accurate and efficient information exchange. In many locations, large groups were gathered to participate in this briefing.
Dr. Garry Conille, Under Secretary General of Programmes and Operations for IFRC said, “We are constantly searching for the best tools to underpin our global mission. Using multilingual virtual meetings to distribute time-critical information to our member National Societies has proven to be quite effective. Compared to other alternatives, this approach gives us the best return on investment and preserves donor funds for application to the most pressing needs. We plan to hold more virtual events in the future.”
Peter Van Den Steene, President of the Board for Luxembourg-based language services provider Presence commented, “Just as we’ve facilitated in-person multilingual meetings for 20 years, we’re now committed to the highest level of service for virtual meetings. We’ve seen a growing demand for this capability since we introduced Presence Talk! in 2015. We’re honoured to be able to play a role in IFRC’s tremendously important effort to fight Zika.”
David Frankel, CEO of California, USA-based ZipDX LLC added, “Bringing the magic of simultaneous interpretation to conference calling allows us to bridge the language barrier for leaders that need to quickly convene global conversations. With Presence and ZipDX teaming together, combining comprehensive language talents with the patented web and phone-based cloud service, we can quickly address challenges like the one IFRC brought to us. We look forward to continued collaboration.”
IFRC has launched a global appeal to support the work of National Societies in the affected regions. The goal is to deliver assistance and support to affected people through activities for the control and prevention of the Zika virus. For more information, please visit www.ifrc.org.