Researchers use phones to predict dengue outbreak in Pakistan

Dengue outbreak

Researchers in Pakistan are using the data of the phone calls made to the dengue helpline to predict the increase in dengue fever in Lahore. The health officials will know three weeks before about the possible dengue outbreak in the city.

Scientists from the Information Technology University (ITU), Punjab, and New York University used phone call statistics to guess the number of dengue patients accurately in 10 sub-regions of Lahore.

In this regard, the chairperson of the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) Umar Saif said that the exciting thing compared to previous disease surveillance systems is that this doesn’t just tell you trends, it forecasts the number of dengue patients you will get up to three weeks into the future.

Umar Saif further stated, “Any developing country without access to sophisticated surveillance can set up a helpline and use the statistical methods, described in this paper, to predict cases before it gets out of hand.”

The free hotline, which was established in 2011 after a sudden dengue outbreak that killed 350 people, allows people to check disease symptoms and know about the available treatment options. It also reports stagnant water where mosquitoes breed. Medically-trained operators can then identify suspected dengue cases and pinpoint dengue hotspots.

Govt. is using smart technologies to fight against dengue

Recently, Haier Mobile provided more than 10,000 customized smartphones to Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) to monitor the anti-polio and anti-dengue campaigns in Punjab. The public health workers can use the apps provided in these smartphones to inform the health departments about the discoveries of dengue larvae in any area.

It is great news for all the people in Lahore that the government of Punjab is using the state-of-the-art digital technologies to fight against the dengue virus. In November 2010, more than 21,000 people were diagnosed with dengue fever. Most of the patients were from Punjab. The severity of the infection was greatest in Lahore.

Image Source: Pak Weather.

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