RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil – Brazilians and international attendees of the Olympic and Paralympic Games will have the opportunity to self-monitor and report symptoms typical of known epidemics in the country. At a time when Brazilians and nearly 500,000 foreign visitors will simultaneously enjoy the Games, the Secretary of Health Surveillance from the Ministry of Health in Brazil is launching a new smartphone application Guardioes da Saude (Guardians of Health).
Launched in partnership with the United States-based Skoll Global Threats Fund, this pioneering initiative of participatory, crowd-sourced surveillance for mass events will collect information about the risk of disease transmission. Combined with other efforts during the Games, this information will accelerate effective action to combat epidemics in weeks prior, during and after the Olympics. In the process of monitoring and detecting outbreaks and epidemics, public participation is essential to curb the spread of diseases, such as those transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti (dengue, Zika and chikungunya).
Based on a similar application — ‘Saude na Copa’ — which was launched successfully during the FIFA World Cup 2014, Guardioes da Saude will encourage users to indicate their health condition daily. Using these reports, the government can detect and monitor specific symptoms typical of known epidemics in the country, including respiratory, diarrheal and rash. Users will help authorities anticipate the potential advance of communicable diseases, and enact rapid communication and activation of necessary measures to inform and protect the public. Consistent reporting will encourage users to remain vigilant in relation to surrounding areas considered critical by the Health Map.
“The Guardioes da Saude mobile application is a resourceful tool for Brazilian and foreign citizens to share and disseminate information on health, making it an integral part of monitoring outbreaks, tracking potential spread and providing information to help people act,” said Ricardo Barros, Brazilian Minister of Health. “As an interactive and real-time tool, this app will help facilitate actions of public health services to identify and potentially contain public health events much faster.”
“Guardioes da Saude will help track the community’s health in real-time over the course of the event,” said Mark Smolinski, Chief Medical Officer at the Skoll Global Threats Fund. “By doing so, Brazilians and foreign visitors collaborate to quickly detect potential health issues and give authorities the opportunity to adopt measures at the local, state and national level.”
Smartphone users are able to access Guardioes da Saude in seven languages, including Portuguese, English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic and Chinese.
The technology and participation of society are essential to analyze health conditions near the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Users will record their own health and ultimately help protect the community around them. Daily questions related to health conditions, such as fever, body aches or joint pain, are asked of the users, however even those feeling healthy are encouraged to report.
In addition to user’s health reports, the application will offer other services through geolocation, such as nearby Ready Units Health Services (UPAs) and pharmacies, and access to information about care and prevention.
The application also allows users of all ages to learn facts about various topics of health through an interactive game, available for tablets and smartphones. Composed of 42 stages in correlation to the Olympic Games, the game has questions with content on various topics related to health, such as the actions to mosquito control Aedes aegypti and how to prevent transmission.