World Health Organisation report on eHealth cites Break Dengue as an example of how technology and collaboration can help fight infectious disease.
The new report – Global diffusion of eHealth: making universal health coverage achievable – was produced by the WHO’s Global Observatory for eHealth. It looks at how governments and organizations around the world are embracing eHealth, big data and information communications technologies to advance global health.
The report explains how Break Dengue has built a coalition of stakeholders to meet the considerable challenge posed by dengue fever. In particular, the authors note that, since its creation in 2013, we have encouraged stakeholders to look at the bigger picture – rather than focusing on single aspects of the challenge such as vector control or vaccine development.
The breadth of the network we have built is also highlighted, along with our use of digital channels and social media tools to connect patients, doctors, industry, NGOs, R&D organizations and associated. Whether it’s reaching out to people at risk via Twitter and Facebook or bringing together specialists on our Dengue Lab platform for experts, Break Dengue has built links between all those on a mission to beat dengue fever – wherever they may be.
That’s why we launched our Give Dengue the Red Card campaign during the World Cup in Brazil; sent our travel blogger to dengue-affected areas; and reported from dengue hotspots in Asia and Latin America.
We even took our message to New York for the Millennium Campus Conference at the United Nations.
For us, these partnerships are essential to understanding and tackling the problem. But it is about more than just awareness. Connecting experts – and ordinary citizens – can lead to concrete actions, enabled by new technology.
“Due to the complex nature of dengue fever transmission, efforts to decrease its spread require both effective collaborative models to bring together diverse stakeholders, and approaches that leverage the power and scalability that our connected world offers,” says Dr Mauricio Santillana Mauricio Santillana, PhD, a physicist and applied mathematician, at Boston Children’s Hospital. “By combining both of these aspects, Break Dengue is ideally positioned to catalyse the conception and implementation of innovative solutions to curb dengue.”
This quote, featured in the WHO report, sums up our philosophy and links neatly with our new Dengue Track initiative that seeks to capture data from internet users to fill epidemiological surveillance information gaps.
These data sets include social media monitoring (Twitter microblogs or Facebook posts), tracking of Google search patterns, monitoring mobile phone use and crowd-sourced participatory disease surveillance tools. Break Dengue is partnering with the HealthMap team at Boston Children’s Hospital to create an innovative internet-based surveillance platform for dengue.
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We were delighted to see our project showcased in this way. But rather than rest on our laurels, this honor only encourages us to do more, to shout louder and to fight harder against dengue.
Because we know there is still so much work to be done.