Creating digital tools to prevent the spread of dengue | Sunday Observer

Creating digital tools to prevent the spread of dengue

12 November, 2017

The first-ever EpiHack Sri Lanka was conducted at Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel recently. The goal of EpiHack 2017 is to create digital solutions to health communication and surveillance of dengue fever with the hope of reducing the epidemic. The digital solutions created during Epihack will be open-source and accessible to all for non-commercial use. This empowers everyone to join the fight against infectious diseases around the world.

The software engineers presented their innovations to stakeholders and observers at the event. It was organised by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Singapore in collaboration with Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), University of Colombo school of Computing (UCSC) and the Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL). The organising team from NTU, CMC, UCSC and CSSL was led by Professor May Lwin, Associate Dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences and Director of NTU University Scholars Program and Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Colombo Municipal Council.

Epihack Sri Lanka's final objective is to develop a cutting edge participatory reporting tool with prevention strategies to battle dengue and bridge communication gaps in dengue control. This builds on the existing Mo-Buzz mobile platform used by the public health inspectors of Colombo. Government officials, health experts, developers from Sri Lanka and the world have been collectively brainstorming and prototyping digital tools to prevent the spread of dengue. The final prototype will represent an exciting second-generation digital surveillance tool at the frontiers of technology-based global health solutions.

Deputy Chief of Staff to the Prime Minister's Office, Rosy Senanayake speaking at the event said, “Dengue fever is a global threat today. In Sri Lanka too Dengue is the only vector bone disease that has to be controlled with prompt action in order to prevent people getting ill and to avoid deaths. This year it effected Sri Lanka very badly making more than 160,000 people sick with the disease. Within the city of Colombo there had been little less than 5000 cases.

Effective dengue control program largely depends on information communication among its key players such as between the government offices, the general public, schools and construction sites.

There is a communication gap between these important parties which needs to be bridged with immediate effect. The whole world is getting digitalized and putting ICT into development is a successful way for achievement. Implementing a digitalized surveillance will make Sri Lanka a smart country.”

Dr. Ruwan Wijayamuni, Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Colombo Municipal Council said, “Sri Lanka will play a key role in surveillance of the dengue epidemic. The digital solution or the software application created during Epihack is a free application that anyone can download through a smart phone.

It is still being developed and the people will be able to access it in a few days. People will be able track the places where the dengue mosquitoes are breeding and spreading. This will allow people to clean the breeding places. We will be sending drones as well to track the mosquito breeding places where the Public Health Inspectors cannot reach. This year most number of Dengue patients were reported from Mattakkuliya and Dematagoda. We believe that this new software will help reduce the dengue epidemic in Sri Lanka.”