The fight against dengue has taken a ride on the latest technology trend. Smartphone is now being used as a weapon to fight the dreaded disease in Pakistan. This is made possible upon a brilliant idea: an app to track down the cases of dengue fever in the country and monitor progress on controlling the mosquito population.
Modern Way to Combat Dengue
The smartphone app was developed by Umar Saif, a computer scientist. It allows Pakistani to register a location where people are reported to have contracted dengue. This allows the government to start a mosquito control activity in the location and monitor the progress of the activity. They also include pictures of the person in charge of the activity.
Saif thought about the app after the dengue epidemic in Punjab last 2011. Saif also created a feature on Google Map that allows his app to connect locations where dengue infection were reported and match them with locations considered as mosquito hot spots. This way it is much easier to focus mosquito control activities in areas where the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are proliferating. Aedes aegypti is the mosquito responsible in spreading the dengue virus.
The app, currently dubbed as Clean Lahore app, is also used to monitor government employees. Since these employees are providing updates and pictures of themselves, government officials are able to determine that they are doing their job and progress is observed. It effectively lessens the corruption in Pakistan’s public sector.
Pakistan started using the Clean Lahore app last year to prevent a repeat of the 2011 dengue epidemic. And the results were remarkable. A total of 67,000 dengue prevention activities were logged into the app which prevented widespread infection among Pakistanis.
The anti-dengue campaign was successes thanks to Saif’s app. Pakistanis help each other in cleaning mosquito breeding spots and avoided places where work is still required. In 2011, 20,000 people get infected in Lahore. Today, the reports show only a few dozen contracting the disease.
Countries that can Benefit from Clean Lahore App
Several states in the US are also experiencing the onslaught of the dengue virus. In Florida, health officials officially declared a dengue outbreak in the state as over a dozen cases have been reported since August. Having a similar smartphone app will help the citizens of Florida identify breeding areas of the mosquito. A good example is the community of Rio. The St. Lucie River passes through the area and people near the river have boats that have become breeding grounds.
Photos and updates can then be uploaded and distributed throughout Florida and will motivate people to act together with the state government. With the Google Map integration feature they can also easily update the network and add more locations that have been identified to be mosquito breeding grounds.
They can also monitor the progress and the measure the effect on the populace through the mobile app. You can even use tablets for better image resolution and capture of the progress. It can also serve as a place to warn people of places in Florida where dengue carrying mosquitoes are rampant to help people avoid going there. This is much easier now since social networking is much faster now thanks to all the mobile devices available. A simple Facebook wall post is all it takes to roll the ball.
Other Countries Should Follow Lahore’s Anti-Dengue Tool
Countries like China, Singapore and Philippines can also follow Pakistan and make good use of the smartphone using population to make dengue prevention drives and ensure their effectiveness and completion. Southeast Asia is also a very popular region for the dengue virus. And it is also a place where smartphones and tablets proliferate.
Last July, Philippines experienced a dengue outbreak in the central province where 1,800 people were infected and killing 10. The following year, China also experience a milder outbreak of dengue with almost 600 people reportedly contracted the disease in the southwest region. Singapore experienced a much earlier dengue outbreak which occurred in the month of June. Around 800 people were infected in one week. Total number of people who got dengue reached 13,000 by July. The good news is that the death toll is in single digit.
All three countries will greatly benefit from Saif’s app due to the high number of people who use smartphones and tablet. Just like in Pakistan, Singapore can prevent a repeat of this year’s epidemic in 2014 using the Clean Lahore app or something similar to it. This should be much easier for Singaporeans since their country is much smaller. Clearing all the mosquitoes in the country will be much easier. Add to that is the fact that Singapore is a wealthier country than Pakistan. Combined with the public sector, an anti-dengue campaign will be swift and effective in Singapore.