‘Technology critical to disease fight’
PERMANENT SECRETARY in the Ministry of Economic Development and Job Creation Audrey Sewell has said that the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology could be pivotal in the country’s fight against the spread of diseases and in the quest to improve general public health.
She noted that GIS maps can assist in identifying disease patterns, risk factors, and sources of pollution, as well as facilitate data analysis.
“There is no doubt that GIS will enable us to get a better understanding of patterns, linkages, and trends across our nation, region, and planet that will enable us to more effectively manage our limited resources and plan for the future,” she said.
Sewell’s remarks are contained in a speech delivered by chief technical director in the ministry Oral Khan during the National Spatial Data Management Division’s ninth annual GIS Business Executive Forum, held at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.
Sewell noted that the use of GIS applications in health mapping has “captured the imagination” of sector stakeholders, who are utilising it for research, planning, and disease management.
She pointed out that “rapidly dwindling borders” globally, giving rise to continuous movement between countries, makes it easy for the spread of infectious diseases by vectors and other means.
This, the permanent secretary noted, was evident in Jamaica by the onset, over the past seven years, of diseases such as chikungunya; Zika; H1N1; dengue fever; and hand, foot, and mouth disease.