Riazi, currently CIO of the New York City Housing Authority, was formerly the global CIO of Ogilvy & Mather. In her role there she traveled the world extensively and was often disheartened by the lack of healthcare and education she witnessed first-hand. After she left O&M she launched CIOs Without Borders, in the hopes that the IT community would get involved in IT philanthropy just as the medical profession has done by offering their services globally through Doctors Without Borders.
The organization currently has two projects, one in Rwanda and one in Vietnam, although additional projects are also in development. In Rwanda 400 doctors serve a nation of 10 million people; that's one doctor for every 25,000 Rwandans. Rwanda suffers from one of the world's highest maternal death and infant mortality rates. By implementing a computerized medical diagnostic system, one technician and one nurse can quickly figure out what's wrong with almost any patient and determine a treatment plan.
This effort builds upon the medical system developed by Abraham George, an expert in international finance now renowned for his philanthropic work. This system has been used successfully by George in rural India for the last five years. Project Rwanda was brought to the attention of CIOs Without Borders through Ed Friedman, professor emeritus of technology management at Stevens Institute of Technology, who has studied how to address the medical crisis in Africa, according to an article in STATETECHmag.com . Currently CIOs Without Borders is working to raise $2.5 million to take project Rwanda to the next step.
The Vietnam Project addresses the medical problems caused by Agent Orange, dropped on Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Twenty million gallons of Agent Orange were dropped on Vietnam during the Vietnam War. Four decades later, with many areas still contaminated, the children of Vietnamese and Americans who were exposed during or after the conflict continue to suffer extensive congenital deformities.
By compiling critical information about Agent Orange onto a single website in both English and Vietnamese, CIOs Without Borders wants to accelerate the efforts of the Vietnamese, American and other Governments to determine the full scope of the tragedy and develop holistic remedies. By implementing a computerized mapping system showing the various projects dealing with disabilities generally, Agent Orange disabilities specifically, and environmental degradation the non-profit can help develop a census to facilitate a coordinated response to the effects of the chemical spraying.
CIOs Without Borders looks for donations and IT volunteers to help with their efforts. In STATETECH's article, Riazi says, "The world is changing, and technology is leading and enabling a tremendous amount of this change-some good, some bad. We must be involved and engaged to reduce the negative and contribute to the positive impact." For more information on how you can get involved, go to the CIOs Without Borders website and learn how you can take action.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have acted as an advisor to Atefeh Riazi as she was starting this organization.