The 2016 Zika outbreak in the Americas was a public health emergency of international concern. Alongside traditional approaches, several digital technologies were used to tackle this rapidly spreading global health threat. A recent review, identified several domains of digital technologies which were utilised during the Zika outbreak, such as computational modelling , big data , mobile health , and other novel technologies .
This week’s blogpost focuses on the development of a rather remarkable piece of homegrown innovation. Stories of restoring a paraplegic’s ability to walk was something previously confined to the pages of ancient divine texts, yet scientists from EPFL based at Campus Biotech in Geneva have managed to achieve the seemingly miraculous. Their success has been a combination of brilliant scientific minds, innovative technology and dedication to a common goal, which has led to this breakthrough.
Their cutting-edge spinal implant acts as a kind of electrical bridge, implanted over the damaged tissue of a patient’s spinal cord, receiving stimuli above the injury and transcribing them below it. The procedure has successfully restored lower motor function in a number of patients who had lost the ability to walk. Beyond the considerable improvement in the quality of life and mental wellbeing of individual patients, such curative technological advancements have huge potential for insuring a healthy and mobile population with far-reaching socio-economic benefits.
Written by Danny Sheath
“The right intervention to the right population at the right time”
“We’ve designed Zipline to solve the second half of this problem. We know who needs medicine, when and where. And now, we can get them that medicine as quickly as possible”
“It’s not about shaming. It’s just about being honest.”
“Supporting Universal Health Coverage by modelling physical accessibility to health care”
AccessMod 5.0 is a World Health Organisation (WHO) tool, a free and open-source standalone software to model how physically accessible existing health services are to the target population, to estimate the part of the target population that would not receive care despite being physically accessible due to shortage of capacity in these services (human or equipment), to measure referral times and distances between health facilities, and to identify where to place new health facilities to increase population coverage through the scaling up analysis .
“Our software harnesses big data, real time-monitoring, artificial intelligence, and proprietary algorithms to deliver critical insights to a variety of audiences”.
Expose. Explore. Explain. Empower.
PATH has been involved in Visualise No Malaria since 2014, an initiative dedicated to eradicate Malaria in Zambia  . Visualise No Malaria is a private sector, governmental and social sector collaboration, hoping to transform health intelligence by working together. The dream team is compromised of PATH, Zambia’s Ministry of Health and eight promising tech companies, who with access to better health data already produced a 92% reduction in malaria-related deaths in Southern Zambia .
“One of the main cyber-threats is to think they don’t exist.”
With the rise of AI, blockchain and all else tech in health, challenges associated with these technologies have been easily forgotten due to their promising potential. Recent discussion at the Geneva Health Forum 2018 discussed the role of cybersecurity in the sphere of global health, in which Prof. Jean-Pierre Hubaux of EPFL introduced the concept of security as “the rightful access to data, ensuring access control, availability, audibility and accountability“, whereas privacy was defined as the “rightful use of data following legal imperatives and expressed wishes of the data owner“. With growing digital footprints, and over 110 million patients in the US having their data compromised in 2015 alone, cybersecurity is rapidly becoming a growing threat to global health .