Technology is helping healthcare officials stay one step ahead of dengue in Brazil. With the arrival of low-cost, simple-to-use mobile phone applications, it has been easier to identify dengue hotspots.
Due to an agreement between Brazil’s Ministry of Health and its Institute of Geography and Statistics, researchers have created an application that healthcare workers can use to track dengue. Launched as a pilot in January 2013 in a handful of cities across Rio de Janeiro state, healthcare workers use the app to report cases of dengue. All the data is collected centrally, with officials using this information to work out where to act – and when. Knowing how badly different areas are affected by dengue lets the government make optimal use of its resources.
The scheme has been so successful, that in June 2014 the government awarded it a prize as one of the top 20 IT developments in the country. By the end of the year, the developers hope to extend its use across the entire state.
Along similar lines, the northeastern city of Natal has also used turned to smartphones to help combat dengue. University researcher Ricardo Valentim and epidemiologist Ion de Andrade developed the app together. It lets residents report potential outbreaks of dengue, allowing the city authorities to respond quickly.
It’s more than likely this kind of app will spread across the country. While many impoverished parts of Brazil may lack basic services – the rapid spread of mobile phone ownership means that many people do have access to smartphones. And easy access makes reporting and tracking of dengue easy too.