What should we learn from Zika?

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 [1].

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Spinal implant helps paraplegics walk again

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

AccessMod 5

“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 [1].

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The evolution of infectious disease surveillance

“We could provide timely, sensitive data on population health”

The 19th century saw the rapid development of sentinel surveillance systems which informed important health policy decisions. In the 20th century, microbiology and computer advances improved disease surveillance and public health communication. Now, in the 21st century, we have access to low cost and quick identification of pathogens. Additionally, we now use big data systems e.g. electronic medical claims which allow us to compare diseases in time and place [1].

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