International epihack hackathon comes to Colombo to fight dengue

18 October 2017 - 278   - 0

Sri Lanka is coming together on November 5-10 with a hackathon to tackle the menace of dengue through the effective use of technology.
Titled “epihack Sri Lanka”, the event is described as, “a 5-day hackathon bringing together public health professionals, IT developers, IT designers and government officials to create an open source digital solution to health communication and surveillance of dengue fever with the hope of reducing the disease.”
According to the Epidemiology Unit of the Ministry of Health, there were 80,732 cases of dengue fever reported between January 1 and July 7 this year. This number includes 215 deaths as a result of the disease with the worst hit being Colombo District with 18,186 cases. 
To be held at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel, epihack Sri Lanka is organized by Nanyang Technological University alongside University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) and Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL).
But it is different from the typical hackathons, the organisers said. “This is a hackathon that encourages collaboration rather than competition. Thus, all the teams work together to build a sustainable solution. And it’s not just IT developers that collaborate together. Epihack also invites health professionals to participate in the process. It’s also a global event that’s been held in various countries. Some examples are Tanzania, Myanmar, Albania, Brazil, Thailand, Laos and more.”
The goal of epihack is to not only develop prototypes but also ensure they bring about sustainable outcomes. This is why both technology and health professionals along with other stakeholders have been invited.
The media release from the local organisers said one such hackathon project is Guardians of Health by Epitrack, which came about after epihack Rio 2015. This was an app used to detect public health emergencies and outbreaks. It utilized crowd-sourced reports to monitor symptoms and health conditions in different areas. Three years later, epitrack has expanded into a young startup and launched a new app called Flu Near You! to track and fight the flu.


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