Using technology in the fight against malaria
With World Malaria Day, 25 April , now a thing of the past, it is important to remember that the momentum behind malaria awareness must continue. That is exactly what the University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control (UP ISMC) aims to do.
The Institute’s recent awareness week at UP concluded with a final Tuks FM interview with Dr Taneshka Kruger, Project Manager of the UP ISMC, during which she announced the release of version 1.2 of the ‘Malaria Buddy’ app originally launched on World Malaria Day 2016. The app originally focused on informing people, mainly tourists, about the disease, its symptoms, how to prevent getting malaria and what one should do if you suspect that you have the disease. The app also included a malaria risk map of South Africa.
Version 1.2 of the app offers the following features:
- Information regarding the causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention of malaria
- Frequently asked questions with detailed answers
- Map data on the latest risk zones
- Clinics that offer malaria-related services
- Travel Mode – Notifies you when you are entering or exiting malaria risk zones (makes use of GIS technology and the phone’s location)
According to Dr Kruger, mobile applications are enabling easier communication in general. The app is therefore a helpful modern tool that could aid in the fight against malaria. The next version of the app is already being planned and a potential release date is scheduled for the SADC Malaria Week, which takes place annually in the second week of November. The next version will include more map data and more facts, but potentially also a secondary platform for healthcare practitioners to access additional information.
The idea behind this app is the brainchild of the son of one of the UP ISMC researchers, Prof Walter Focke. Prof Focke is a Chemical Engineer at the University of Pretoria, whose malaria research started after his son and grandson contracted the disease. Prof Tiaan de Jager, Director of the UP ISMC, approached Prof Focke in 2011 and together they discussed the potential of collaborating on malaria research.
The app was designed by a software developer at Travel with Flair (TWF) (www.travelwithflair.co.za), a leading, award-winning travel solutions company with more than 20 years in the industry, with six hubs across South Africa. The company is customer focused and offers a total quality travel management programme with flexibility to suit the various needs of your organisation.
The app is available for download on the Google Play store for Android phones and for iOS devices on the iTunes Store.
The UP ISMC (www.malaria.up.ac.za) is a fully integrated, multi- and transdisciplinary, interfaculty and interdepartmental initiative. The aim of the Institute is to coordinate and promote collaborative research on safer and sustainable malaria control and management, and generate new knowledge and support new activities pertaining to safe malaria control in Africa.
– Author University of Pretoria Institute for Sustainable Malaria Control