By Irvin Sibanda
THE Harare Institute of Technology, working in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, has developed a smartphone application (app) that allows users to report any suspected Covid-19 death from their communities in addition to assisting healthcare personnel view the geographical distribution of the reported cases of the coronavirus and other sicknesses.
The Covid-19 Alert Reporting Management System (CAMS) is a real-time and cloud-based alert management system that also enables users to send alerts through the evaluation of Covid-19 symptoms using a smartphone.
“The major motivation of developing the system was for the nation to have a tool at its disposal that enables the National Covid-19 Taskforce to make informed decisions in real-time, as well as contributing to the general public’s safety by improving the reporting of Covid-19 cases,” HIT Vice Chancellor, Engineer Quinton Kanhukamwe, said while unveiling the app.
“We also wanted patients to get assurance that help is on its way when they report cases. We were also motivated to provide a platform of comparing Zimbabwe’s performance against the world in real-time.
“The application sends two SMS messages to the suspected patient’s next of kin and the nearest Covid-19 Control/Call Centre.
“The Control Centre calls the patient and the next of kin to ascertain the report. Once confirmed, the Control Centre communicates with the Ministry of Health and Child Care categorise the report as pending, resolved, discarded or contacted,” he explained.
In terms of case management, the system allows the management of suspected cases on the public website covid19zw.com in order to track the patient’s performance.
The website is accessed once the user selects “view website” on the main menu of the Android application.
Once a patient has been tested and results are out, the Covid-19 Control Centre creates a heatmap showing potential areas of infection. The heatmap gives the general public an understanding of how the virus is spreading.
Said Kanhukamwe: “For instance, once the results are tested positive, all areas once visited by the patient are mapped-red.
“Orange denotes that a report has been generated, but the test results are still unavailable.
“Green reflects that a report has been generated, but tested negative, while red indicates that a report was generated and the test results were positive.
“Blue circles illustrates the provincial cities of the respective provinces.”
Covid-19 Alert Reporting Management System (CAMS) also generates important information such as reported cases per district, confirmed positive cases per district, total recovered patients per district, total deaths per district, priority-based Automated Testing System (PbATS), quarantined population census, quarantine areas (Hospitals), Healthcare Services-Priority (HcSP).
He ccontinued: “This app presents great benefits and opportunities to ordinary Zimbabweans. Firstly, it eliminates the need to travel to hospital in public transport as the patient will be picked from where a report is made. This reduces transmission of the virus as well as the cost of travelling to get health care.
“Apart from that, it helps in decongesting healthcare facilities with unnecessary cases of people who may feel that they are suffering from the pandemic (hypochondria) whilst ensuring that cases of those unwilling to seek medical care are recorded.
“The application also helps in mapping hotspots, remote surveillance and ultimately enables policy makers and epidemiologists to plan using accurate and live data.
“We appreciate the deep mobile penetration of smartphones in the country and we have made the downloading of the application free of charge and it can be shared amongst the users. We are also advocating that Internet Service Providers host it for free.”
Kanhukamwe said the Harare Institute of Technology has the biggest critical mass of machine designers, biomedical engineers and instrumentation engineers in the country, and as such has to play a leading role in bringing innovation that simplifies lifestyles, improves livelihoods and saves lives.
“The pandemic has just opened our eyes to the limitless opportunities around us and the inherent potential that we possess. We now have an established School of Allied Health Sciences, with departments of Radiography, Biotechnology and Biomedical Engineering.
“These will work in an inter and multi-disciplinary approach with other departments of the University to develop technologies not only to fight the pandemic, but responsive to the national industrialisation and modernisation agenda,” said Engineer Kanhukamwe.
A few months ago, the HIT developed ventilator prototypes for use by Covid-19 patients in the country’s hospitals. – Zimbabwe Voice