Smartphones enable the world’s largest disease study

Smartphones enable the world’s largest disease study | Source: Medical News Today, March 14, 2016 |

The results of the largest infectious disease study ever to be undertaken have revealed that 100 million people around the world are at risk of blindness from the infectious disease trachoma.

The research project, which involved 2.6 million participants in 29 different countries, over a 3-year period, was made possible by the use of smartphone technology to help collect, log and transmit data from surveyors operating around the world.


Smartphones enabled organizers to ensure that data could be easily collected in even the most remote parts of the world and then subsequently transmitted for analysis. Image credit: Sightsavers/Tom Saater

Dr. Caroline Harper, CEO of Sightsavers, says:

“The biggest infectious disease mapping exercise in history, ‘The Global Trachoma Mapping Project,’ has been completed within agreed timescales and budget. Funded by the UK government, in partnership with the US and WHO [World Health Organization], this creates a lasting platform which will underpin the drive to eliminate blinding trachoma, and will also contribute to efforts to eliminate other neglected tropical diseases.”

She adds that it “demonstrates how critical accurate data is in the battle to eliminate diseases, and has been a tremendous exercise in collaboration and the use of mobile technology.”

Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness in the world, impairing the vision of around 2.2 million people, of whom 1.2 million are irreversibly blind. It is a health problem in around 51 countries, including Asia and the Middle East, with Africa carrying the bulk of the burden.

The disease is mostly prevalent in poor, crowded communities with limited access to clean water and sanitation. In its initial stages, it mainly passes between children aged 1-5 years and the women who care for them.

Read the complete article.


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