Smartphones have changed our lives be it communication or any other field of life including health issues etc. It has helped us in every field. Nowadays different apps have been introduced for various purposes. Name the thing and you have an application for it. Similarly, Pakistan’s App development industry has also quite improved from last many years. The efforts of PITB in this regard are impressive enough as Punjab is fully committed in digitization of province. Today, BBC Appreciates PITB Efforts in Curbing Polio via Smartphones.
The IT Board is using smartphones in order to eliminate polio in the province of Punjab.
While talking to BBC, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq Prime Minister Focal Person for Polio Eradication, said that the number of polio cases have reduced from 306 to 18 in the last two years. She also said that technology has been useful in reducing the number of cases.
In Pakistan, a number of interrelated factors have hindered increased vaccination rates. Many can be linked to the security threat of the Taliban, and ramifications of the campaign against it.
Vaccinations are important for preventing deadly diseases. They are helpful for infants, children, teens and adults. In this regard the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB), has introduced mobile apps for vaccinations such as polio, dengue and many other diseases. Area in-charges and UCMOs monitor efficacy of polio campaign on the go and report using smart phone. As many as 3,800 mobile handsets with pre-installed polio app were distributed for the said purpose.
BBC Appreciates PITB Efforts in Curbing Polio via Smartphones
According to an estimate around 11,000 smartphones have been provided to the team. PITB’s Health Program Manager, Bilal Iqbal while talking to BBC also revealed that, smartphones use for Polio vaccinations have been initiated this year September. Initially the polio campaign monitoring started in seven districts. Lahore and Rawalpindi were among the regions at high risk. Other included Multan, DG Khan, Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh and Rahim Yar Khan.
As the Polio Campaign is still in it’s initial stages and the health teams gather information manually. To some extent they use mobile applications to keep a record as well. After the data is collected the supervisory officers verify it whether the information is valid or not. For this purpose a form has already been digitized.
Bilal Iqbal further added that Geographic Information System (GIS) based Micro Level mapping is being used. The main purpose to use GIS is to guide the respective teams regarding their Union Council area jurisdictions as well as to ensure that all children in the mapped areas are covered. With this application the location of the polio workers can also be traced. So timely help can be provided to them.
Experts believe that using smartphones for the monitoring of health workers will be helpful in the process of vaccination. But all of this will need time to be implemented properly.
Though the government of Pakistan once hyped 2016 as the year the country would remove the polio virus, but a series of barriers stopped reaching this objective. But still there is a ray of hope that mechanisms and methodologies like these can help achieve the goal in 2017.