A letter of intent was recently signed between the Government of Grenada and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) for the introduction of a new mobile app for mosquito borne diseases.
The signing which took place at the Ministry of Works conference room last week took place against the backdrop of last year’s Chikunguyna epidemic that affected many persons in Grenada.
Health officials believe that through this application, a substantial difference can be made in educating the public about how to control the spread of mosquitos.
Director of CARPHA, James Hospidales said the methods that were previously used are not working very well and something different needs to be done to control the mosquito population.
“This type of application, partnering between technology and Health Ministry to bring information to citizens. In the first instance that it may inform them (about) symptoms that they might have and receive information that allow them to take action right away to protect themselves and their family”, he added.
“We will have to work very closely with the Ministry of Health. We will have to work very closely with telecom and we will have to work closely with people because … it reflects a development in Caribbean co-operation in health,” he said.
According to Hospidales, the app would empower citizens and people to participate a lot more in their health, as well as in managing their environment and to be more healthy.
“We will have a much more developed mobile health initiative because everybody has one where eventually you have access to health records, you receive information on health and disease, how to protect yourself, appropriate to your condition, you will be able to report things, mark things,” he said.
Representative for International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Cleveland Thomas believes that ICT can play an important role in helping to reduce the risk of exposure and infections including possible deaths.
“The ITU is continuously working for ways to harness mobile technology to provide solutions to some of the challenges facing the world today including disease outbreaks which have serious impacts on community world wide”, he said.
“Born from the experience of the Ebola, information sharing, mobile app launch in December in 2014 – today we are announcing that an application called get the facts, mosquito virus app for the Caribbean is in the final stages of development,” he added.
Thomas explained some of the benefits that can be derived from the use of the App.
He said: “It will provide the public with vital information about the disease including how they are spread, it will provide information on signs and symptoms, preventative measures, control and where to get treatment.
“…It will offer public access to the latest news on the disease from official sources as well as an interactive mark of the affected areas.
It could also help to better coordinate between the health agencies,” he added.
Representing the Ministry of ICT at the signing was Public Utilities Minister, Gregory Bowen who said the best services need to be available for this App to be a success.
“The emphasis is on mobile, it therefore means our technology must be up to date. We’re talking about 3G and 4G and I’ve asked the NTRC and ECTEL in particular to ensure that what is advertised is what we receive. If it’s 3G, it’s 3G, if it’s 4G, it must have the capacity and the bandwidth to take in the data and to do the transaction, it will play a significant role in this mobile app,” said the senior government minister.
A cost for the App has not been decided as yet but it will be affordable for all smart phone users to gain access to it.