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AIS app helps public health authorities fight dengue fever

Dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease caused by the dengue virus, seems familiar to many of us. But there is no specific medicine to treat dengue infection, and the available vaccines have a low efficacy rate.

So, the best way to prevent the disease is to get rid of the breeding grounds of common house mosquitoes, which are the carrier.

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) has conducted nationwide surveys on the mosquito’s larvae with the help of village health volunteers (known by their Thai abbreviation as Aor Sor Mor). During their household visits, the volunteers looked for the mosquito’s larvae and got rid of their breeding grounds.

Over the past three years, more than 280,000 village health volunteers across the country use the Aor Sor Mor Online mobile application in gathering information during their surveys of mosquito larvae. This way, it is more efficient than jotting down on paper.

The surveys on the mosquito’s breeding grounds have helped authorities quickly determine an outbreak and obtain the big picture about the dengue fever situation.

Dr. Chantana Padungtod, director of the DDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases, says that her agency has been able to efficiently manage dengue fever outbreaks over the recent years because village health volunteers use the Aor Sor Mor Online app as their tool in the data gathering.

Previously, the volunteers each took care of 10-15 households, and they had to jot down information before putting it in the system. However, over the past three years, they have been able to gather data on the mosquito’s larvae with the app.

As a result, data from more than 280,000 volunteers who regularly use the app are flowing into the system in real time, particularly involving the houses and containers where mosquito larvae were found.

The information obtained has proved helpful for the effective control of dengue fever.

Dr. Chantana Padungtod, director of the DDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases

“In the past, when information was collected in a paper form, there were inaccuracies. But the Aor Sor Mor Online app has allowed more flexibility for the village health volunteers. The data they collect is sent to sub-district health promoting hospitals for analysis and follow-up in case of an outbreak,” Dr Chantana said.

The DDC relies on the data and the reports of new cases in predicting a possible outbreak of dengue fever. Areas are zoned by the level of dengue risks — high, medium, and low. The risk factors are then determined so that the local authorities and residents of a high-risk area are warned if they need to prepare for an outbreak.

“Aor Sor Mor Online app helps the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases to determine the number of mosquito larvae and the location of their breeding grounds, in real time,” said Dr Chantana.

She says her department plans to use the data collected through the app, along with information from the Meteorological Department regarding rainfalls and humidity, to help boost the accuracy of its analysis in locating areas with high risks of dengue fever.

Saichon Submakudom, head of public relations at Advanced Info Service PLC (AIS)

Meanwhile, Saichon Submakudom, head of public relations at Advanced Info Service PLC (AIS), says the Aor Sor Mor Online app was designed by an AIS team as an “important platform” that connects the village health volunteers with Thailand’s healthcare system.

She said that with the app, village health volunteers can relay health information and services to people while collecting people’s information for the healthcare system.

The Aor Sor Mor Online app has various features for public health purposes. The feature of surveying mosquito larvae was created in response to a request by the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases aimed at raising the efficiency of data collection for curbing dengue fever.

About half of the 1 million village health volunteers across Thailand use the Aor Sor Mor Online app regularly. Among the 500,000 regular users, more than 280,000 employ the feature of surveying mosquito larvae every month.

A team of five to six AIS developers work on the improvements of the Aor Sor Mor Online app. Also, AIS employees all over the country volunteer in introducing new features of the app to village health volunteers.

The feature of surveying mosquito larvae was included in the app in 2019. Over the past three years, village health volunteers have surveyed mosquito larvae more than 100 million times covering over 5 million households.

The massive data obtained during the surveys, used in preventing dengue fever outbreaks, have been credited for the constant decline in new patients.

“Villagers are advised on improving the environment of their houses, which leads to better sanitation in communities,” Saichon said.  

She added that the ecosystem that consists of village health volunteers, sub-district health officials, community hospital doctors, and AIS are helping to save Thai people from the threat of dengue fever.

Dengue fever is a health problem for not only Thailand but also other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as the region is located in the tropical zone.

On June 15 every year, the grouping’s 10 member states mark ASEAN Dengue Day to jointly campaign for the disease’s prevention.

In Thailand alone, dengue fever has posed a severe health threat for over seven decades.

A total of 3,386 patients have been reported between January 1 and June 8, 2022. That is a decline of 21 per cent when compared to the same period in 2021. Outbreaks of dengue fever often occur in the rainy season, starting in May.

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