Prof Darelle van Greunen, Director of the Centre for Community Technologies at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, won a R1 million Discovery Foundation Rural Fellowship at the awards ceremony recently. It will boost her development of a mobile application aimed at reducing high drug-resistant TB burden in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
A specialist in developing and implementing computerised applications to solve problems in poorly-resourced lower income and rural areas, the application will enable community health workers, (CHW’s), and general healthcare practitioners to enter health data into an ordinary cell phone.
This tracks patient trends and themes to identify and contain potential disease spread. Among data recorded are X-ray reading results, sputum requests/results, kinds of medications used by the patient, contacts they’ve had, glucose levels (due to the strong TB/diabetes correlation) and what patients ingest. A current area of investigation is recording the free speech of patients during CHW home visits, plus the patient using their own phone to record moods at intervals during the day.
Key words are identified and used to correlate with recorded activities and ingestion. Van Greunen said one aim was to educate and engage patients to motivate them into self-management of their conditions to enable longer and healthier lives.
The award is mostly made to medical researchers and healthcare practitioners so it is indeed a privilege that this very prestigious award was made to an ICT person. This is a national event with several 100’s of applications and nominations annually.
Source Nelson Mandela University