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Technology soon to track dengue

Carlos Atwell

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THE environmental Health Department will soon be using technology to track dengue cases.In a telephone interview on Friday, chief environmental officer Tyrone Applewhaite said the Automated Inspection Methodology Programme would revolutionise the way the department operated.“We will be inputting all cases of complaints and cases of dengue fever as well as suspected cases [to] the system so we can see them in real time across the country and can in turn direct our fogging programme and house-to– house inspections,” Applewhaite said.“We want to get to the point where our officials will be using palm pilots to update the system but in the meantime, we have to move in an incremental fashion,” he added.“The idea was around for the past five years and over that time, we have been building capacity and conducting familiarisation training,” he said.Applewhaite said the programme was built around the geographical information system platform and would initially be made available to all the catchment areas.During a Press conference earlier in the Frank Walcott Building, Culloden Road, St Michael, Applewhaite said they were working with most of the utility companies to target the more than 3 000 underground junction boxes and underground water tanks, some of which were mosquito breeding grounds.He said this information would also be uploaded into the system.Environmental Health Specialist with responsibility for vector control, Ronald Chapman, is in charge of implementing the programme. In the Press conference, he said the programme would take the form of a digital map.“That piece of technology allows us to look at a digital map where we can plot every complaint and plot the incidences of disease on that map. “It will allow us to see whether there are clusters of areas where  we can target our control programmes.“When all the information is on paper, it is very hard to see spatially what is going on but when you put it on a map, it is very easy to say ‘we are having problems here’ or ‘over here is not having any problems’ and that gives us a strong tool to help manage our mosquito population as well as dengue fever,” he said.

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