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How computers are being used to fight cholera in Yemen

30/08/2018

How computers are being used to fight cholera in Yemen

Computers and technology have been revolutionising the healthcare industry for many years. Whether it’s something simple like managing patient records or super-advanced robot-assisted surgery, computers and technology are now engrained in all aspects of medical care.


Now, exciting and much-needed progress is being made (using computers) to tackle the cholera epidemic in Yemen.


The computer system predicts where outbreaks will occur, allowing aid workers to focus their efforts on prevention in advance. As a result, the number of new cases has plummeted.


Last year, a staggering 50,000 new cholera cases were reported in Yemen in just one week. This year, that number has dropped considerably to 2,500.


The system - the implementation of which was coordinated by the UK's Department for International Development - monitors rainfall and identifies areas where sewage systems are likely to be overwhelmed, leading to the infection spreading.


The forecasts are used, sometimes up to four weeks in advance, to deploy Unicef resources on the ground to potential cholera hotspots, where they distribute hygiene kits, jerrycans and chlorine tablets.


Speaking about the new computer system, Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser at the UK Department for International Development, said: “What this technology enables us to do is really home in to where we're going to get new outbreaks, and respond really effectively.”

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