From Phnom Penh to Arusha to Hack for Health

posted on: December 24, 2014

sokmesa-epihack-tanzania-gOur own senior developer Sokmesa Khiev has just returned from Arusha, where he attended EpiHack Tanzania. The four-day event brought together epidemiologists and software developers to jointly develop digital prototypes for disease detection in the East Africa.

In this blog post, Sokmesa shares his views on his trip to Arusha as well as his experience working with other fellow developers from other parts of the world as a team to help refine mobile surveillance systems during the hackathon.

Question: How did you like Arusha?
Sokmesa: Arusha is great city, which is close to Meru mountain and Kilimanjaro mountain. It is a nice city and not so crowded. Surrounded by mountain and forest, the weather is also very good, making Arusha attractive.

Question: Have you attended any previous EpiHack?
Sokmesa: I’ve never attended any EpiHack before. This is my first time at EpiHack Tanzania. As mentioned by Mark Smolinski, Director at Skoll Global Threats Fund, it’s the best EpiHack ever. I’m surprised to see people from different countries in East Africa work together to find the problem and suggest the solution in the event.
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Question: What is EpiHack?
Sokmesa: EpiHack is a series of hackathon event that has been supported by Skoll Global Threats Fund. The event focuses on using technologies to support public health. EpiHack brings together health experts and technologists explore how technologies can help health experts in doing their works.

Question: What impressed you most during the event?
Sokmesa: I am very much impressed by the enthusiasm of health experts and technology experts who come up with solutions to problems. An amazing part of EpiHack is the field visit to the remote area where participants can take a close look at the practice and existing surveillance system, so that we can get feedback from the end users about their challenges. This helps us to work on improving the alert system of disease outbreak.

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Question: What project/track did you focus on at EpiHack Tanzania?
Sokmesa: I focused on Animal Contact Tracing project. This project is mainly focused on controlling animal disease outbreak.

Question: How would you describe the project you were working on in just three sentences?
Sokmesa: Anyone can use their mobile phone to report cases of animal disease from their village. Powered by InSTEDD’s open source platform Verboice, the voice message reports would be recorded and stored. In addition to this, Resource Map platform can be used to capture locations of reported cases and send the information to health workers closers to those locations.

This participatory surveillance tech event has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Skoll Gobal Threat Fund.

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