Published: 16th April 2020
It takes six months to detect epidemics in India. This Loyola College prof's app can do it in 24 hours
The chronology of the process, which is manual at present, will remain the same but the entire process will be shifted online
In India, it takes around six months from spotting an epidemic or disease outbreak to determining the type of pathogen causing the disease. At a time when we are faced with the worst outbreak of our times, it urges you to think about how many lives can be spared by expediting this process. Dr S Vincent, a former Dean of Research at Chennai's Loyola College, has come up with an integrated online system that can reduce this six-month span to merely 24 hours.
The chronology of the process, which is manual at present, will remain the same but the entire process will be shifted online. "The officials on the ground take have to fill up a form — Form S — during the survey. The data collected is then transferred to the labs. The next step is filling up Form L or the one for the labs. Then comes the Form P or the one with the physicians. The Central Repository determines the type of the virus after that and then takes steps. The entire process generally takes six months," said the professor.
"This technology not only digitised the entire process but alerts the concerned authorities instantaneously for further action by the health administrative officials. It will also help health administrators and policymakers for framing emergency responses to the epidemic outbreaks through real-time mapping of epidemiological data by combined spatial attributes to online data and colour coded thematic representation of epidemiological data on the basis of ground information from a susceptible region prone to the outbreak," he added. The professor was also formerly the Member Secretary for Tamil Nadu State Council for Science and Technology. He has served as a Dean of Research, Loyola College for more than six years.
The technology, which has been supported by Ministry of Communication and Information Technology and lauded by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) can help epidemic emergency response mapping by combined spatial attributes to online epidemiological data with infectious diseases information that affect population groups. "Each patient's case history or disease information with location point shall be captured using GPRS enabled mobile unit or computer with internet by using customised Geo-coding GIS application. Thematic representation of each health centre points with all villages with X and Y coordinates along with online epidemiological data will be presented by the software," said the researcher.
The input data will be analysed online and thematic maps and automatic reports — location and timewise infectious disease prediction and analysis — will be generated to alert the government to any epidemic using standard statistical threshold limits, he added. "A real-time online surveillance epidemiological information system shall facilitate quick emergency response for Decision Makers (Decision Support System) to eradicate and control infectious disease in a short span of time," Dr Vincent said.