Epihack Sri Lanka is set to be a five-day event organized by Nanyang Technological University alongside University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC) and Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL).
According to the Epidemiology Unit of the Health Ministry, there were 80,732 cases of dengue fever reported between January 1st and July 7th this year.
This number includes 215 deaths as a result of the disease, and the worst hit was the Colombo District with 18,186 cases. Dengue has always been amongst the deadliest diseases we face in Sri Lanka. And Epihack Sri Lanka aims to stop it.
Epihack is described as, a ‘five-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’.
However, this is different from the typical hackathons we see. 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. Now, it’s coming to Sri Lanka on 6th November 2017.
The goal of Epihack is to not only develop prototypes but also ensure they bring about sustainable outcomes. This is why they invite both technology and health professionals along with other stakeholders. One 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.
Another project is Afyadata from Epihack Tanzania in 2014. This was built by the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS). It’s used to collect, submit, receive and/or track feedback of health data. A completely open source tool, once it has this health data is stored and analyzes it to help health professionals make decisions.