Impact Stories, Features, Case Studies

Feature: Bringing Innovative Health Surveillance System to Communities

Designed by Chiang Mai University’s faculties of veterinary medicine, engineering and economics etc. The “PODD” mobile app serves as a platform for different sectors to work together as a disease surveillance network.

Wichian Taepin, assistant village headman of Ban Koo Hor Samakki in Chiang Mai’s Chom Thong district, still remembered when he saw a dozen of his backyard chicken dead on an early May morning.  The first thing he did was pick up his smart phone and report the incident with photos of the dead poultry to his LINE group.

As soon as he posted his message on the communication application, his LINE group members, comprised of staff at local administrative bodies and those at the district office, picked up his message.  They connected and coordinated with livestock and health officials and other health volunteers in the area by using the Participatory One Health Disease Detection (PODD) mobile app. Within hours, a surveillance rapid response team (SRRT) arrived at the site to investigate the outbreak situation, clean up the area, and bury the carcasses.

Thanks to the innovative technology and the strong network, fowl plague was quickly identified.  The outbreak was controlled in the area by the end of the day.  No cases of poultry fatalities have been reported in the village or other villages in the Chom Thong district for months.

“We can also use technology to not only help control animal outbreak in remote area real-time if we are trained to work together with authorities and others in the area. Community should be a part of the disease surveillance system in a bid to help reduce infectious and zoonotic diseases,” Taepin said. 

Like other agricultural-based provinces in Thailand, Chiang Mai also faces a series of mass livestock pig and poultry deaths caused by zoonotic diseases such as fowl plague, cholera, and bird flu. Being a world-renowned tourist destination generates income, but infectious disease threats (i.e. Ebola, Mers, Bird Flu and Nipah, even HIV/AIDS) can be transmitted from monkeys to humans.

Realizing the need to prevent pandemics and the transmission of animal diseases to humans, PODD was created.  The first phase of the project has been operated since August 1, 2014 with the original funding support from the Skoll Global Threats Fund to create a mobile app that helps link each relevant sector to work together on zoonotic disease surveillance.

“If we cannot prevent these animal-to-human diseases, they could spread and become global epidemics. It is important that we can detect animal diseases and prevent the transmission to human,” said Terdsak Yano, PODD project leader.

It was crucial to know which animal diseases have the potential to become an epidemic and determine whether they can transmit from animals to humans. Reporting an outbreak situation from a remote area to the central office was time consuming. A lack of proper communication channels and delayed reports could increase outbreak opportunities, he said.  

Since coordination with various agencies is needed to respond to different circumstances, PODD is a digital tool that enables villagers to take care of their own communities by using innovative technology. The mobile app also creates a channel for local villagers to report situations in real time to authorities.

After receiving a report from a volunteer, the PODD team coordinates with officials at district and sub-district administration bodies, the village headman, and health volunteers trained on using the mobile app to curb the outbreak, said Taweesart Tantiyanond.

Amporn Chaileurn, a health volunteer at the Ban Luang district, said people used telephones to connect with each other in the past. However, smartphones now connect people to each other more effectively and efficiently. Today, there are no more communication barriers between communities and authorities.

In the Chom Thong district, three groups of staff were trained to work on PODD and to teach local residents at a larger scale on how to use their smartphones to report suspicious cases.

The PODD app is a good example of how innovation and technology utilisation can make a change.

Believing that technology can bring about change and make the world a better place, the South East Asia One Health University Network supported a session on the lessons learned of during the first phase of the PODD project held recently in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  Up to 50 participants from regional intergovernmental and non-profit organizations met during July 11-13, 2016 in Chiang Mai to discuss and seek ways on how to further develop the mobile application that helps strengthen collaboration among local communities and One Health professionals in the province.

There is still room for the mobile application development to grow.  Capacity building through training on how to use mobile application to among wider groups of villagers and local field staff will increase effectiveness and efficiency of multisectoral collaboration and disease surveillance system in the long run, said Lertrak Srikitjakarn SEAOHUN Foundation Chairman.-end-

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One Health Profile
Dr. Astuti Yuni Nursasi, a lecturer at Universitas Indonesia’s Faculty of Nursing, received a travel grant to participate and give a presentation during a recent international conference on health care quality in Chiang Mai. She also talked to the SEAOHUN about empowering communities and families in the fight against tuberculosis in Indonesia.

Having been a lecturer for 22 years, Dr. Astuti Yuni Nursasi always believes that education and experience leads to self-improvement and professional development. She never stops learning new things, especially about family nursing and tuberculosis — her two areas of expertise.

“Tuberculosis has become my concern because it’s still a big health problem in the world and in Indonesia. If I did not do any action as a nurse to start controlling TB, I would be considered irresponsible,” she said.

Up to 322,806 new tuberculosis cases were reported in Indonesia in 2014 according to the World Health Organization. In the West Java province of Depok where her workplace is located, up to 1,110 patients were diagnosed with tuberculosis.

Realizing how widespread tuberculosis was in her community, the long-time nurse became interested in the infectious disease and the role of nurses to contribute in community development. Dr. Yuni also furthered her masters and doctorate studies, which enabled her to develop a model for tuberculosis care.

A total of 108 tuberculosis patients in 15 sub-districts of the Depok community were targeted for her research. Half of the patients in six sub-districts were identified as an intervention group, while the patients living in the nine other sub-districts were categorized as a control group to compare results.

As part of her research, handbooks with instructions on tuberculosis care, including diagnosis, treatment, and public health care were distributed to nurses, community health workers, families, and the TB patients. A team of nurses and community health workers also visited tuberculosis patients at their residences once or twice a week in order to monitor and follow up on self-care and medication routines among the patients and family members at risk of contracting the pulmonary disease.

Results after the completion of 10 visits to six tuberculosis-monitored sub-districts showed an increase in the number of patients who were able to correctly conduct tuberculosis care routines by themselves, thanks to her newly-established communications between nurses, community health workers, and families of the TB patients.

This research was carried out as part of her doctoral dissertation on the topic, “Effectiveness of Nurses, Community Volunteers, Families and Clients’ Empowerment to Improve Pulmonary Tuberculosis Client Independence for Self-care” and garnered international recognition for Dr. Yuni. She also worked with the International Council of Nurses and became a board member of the Indonesia Association Against Tuberculosis to collaborate with authorities, health professionals, and communities in a bid to reduce TB cases in the community.

Full of eagerness to learn new things, the 45-year-old academic accepted that finding resources that enabled her to expand One Health knowledge essential for her nursing professional development was challenging. Despite receiving acceptance to give a presentation on her work at the “Optimizing Healthcare Quality: Teamwork in Education, Research and Practice” conference held by Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Nursing in Chiang Mai, Thailand during June 22-24, 2016. She was not certain if she would be able to join, due to the lack of funding support.

Her prayer was answered when her colleague who works at the Indonesia One Health University Network, in coordination with SEAOHUN, emailed her about the availability of travel grants provided by the South East Asia One Health University Network. She did not hesitate to apply for the grant and included the abstract of her study for the panelists’ consideration.

It did not take long for her to receive the good news. She insists that participating in the conference gave her a valuable opportunity to learn how to make an inter-collaborative nursing research and study.

“Like One Health, we have to work together with other professions to improve health for all,” she said.-end-

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SEAOHUN Executive Board Meeting and Deans' Forum 2016

Organized by the SEAOHUN Secretariat, SEAOHUN hosted a back-to-back meeting and forum on May 31-June 2 in Bangkok, Thailand with an aim to discuss the next steps of SEAOHUN’s collaboration with national networks and potential OHW partners in the region. Up to 40 participants from United Nations agencies, such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Organization of Animal Health, and universities from SEAOHUN member countries--Mahidol University, Universitas Indonesia, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, and Bogor Agriculture University also attended the forum focusing on the theme Addressing Pandemic Threats—One Health Workforce and Leading Roles of Universities.

Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong, Disease Control Department Deputy Director-General at Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health gave a keynote address during the opening session.



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South East Asia One Health University Network is supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development Emerging Pandemic Threats 2 Program.


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