Mobile technology can support cross-border disease surveillance

health and fitness

Mobile technology can support cross-border disease surveillance


Travel and technology concept. PHOTO FILE | NMG

Summary

  • A mobile phone-based approach to cross-border disease surveillance can be instituted in which all travel prerequisites are not only stored in an individual’s digital travel wallet, but also acceptable as sufficient proof of good medical condition. health.

Recently, I have experienced overtly arduous cross-border travel between Kenya and Uganda. Before – COVID-19, such a crossing would cost me around 30 minutes. This one took 3 hours; due to an additional layer of cross-border COVID-19 disease surveillance imposed on travelers by health ministries in both countries.

The prescribed process flow for travelers is as follows: First, travelers report to a temperature control desk (although COVID-19 disease is currently highly unlikely with fever).

They must then produce a printed copy of the negative COVID-19 PCR test result which is verified using a QR code reader (despite the fact that PCRs are expensive and a negative COVID-19 PCR test is not ‘not entirely rule out the presence of COVID-19 disease and also that rapid tests are cheaper but can perform the same screening function).

Travelers are also requested to present an international paper vaccination certificate to prove vaccination against yellow fever. In the event that a traveler does not have any of these prerequisites, as many do, it is left to the mercy of the port health personnel to decide whether or not to continue the journey. You can guess the common financial criterion that is applied here!

After this procedural nightmare, the traveler presents to the immigration office where they are asked to reproduce the exact same documents as part of the customs clearance process (although one of the common routes of transmission of the COVID-19 disease is or by contaminated objects or surfaces such as by numerous exchanges of documents).

Having survived this melee, I found myself thinking about how technology can help facilitate cross-border disease surveillance. One obvious approach is to harness the power of mobile telephony. We are in a time of intense mobile phone penetration in Africa and a global community that is rapidly moving towards Digitization of Everything (DoE).

Therefore, a mobile phone-based approach to cross-border disease surveillance can be instituted in which all travel prerequisites are not only stored in an individual’s digital travel wallet, but also acceptable as sufficient proof of good health. This would greatly reduce the current pain of cross-border travel.

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