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Malaysian health innovator to address UN on Zika mobile application


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian public health practitioner and epidemiologist Dr Dhesi Baha Raja (pix) will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Wednesday after he was selected to present his Zika-predicting mobile application to world leaders and policymakers. 

Dr Dhesi, who developed AIME (Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology), a disease-prediction mobile platform that employs technology and data to give people prior warning of when dengue and Zika outbreaks might occur, told The Star Online on Tuesday that he was excited to be presenting his solution to policymakers, world leaders and government agencies. 

“Our research initiative to predict and stop deadly outbreaks started in Malaysia, and today our technology has been deployed in Latin America, Asia and the United States,” he said. 

AIME has been selected along with nine other groundbreaking innovations by the United Nations Solution Summit from over 850 applications from more than 110 countries. 

The application is able to predict Zika outbreaks up to 100 days in advance with an accuracy of 91.11% and dengue to within three months in advance and with an accuracy of 88%. 

“We are not sure if our action will save lives, but we are certainly sure, inaction kills,” he said.

According to Dr Dhesi, the summit marks the beginning of a “grassroots effort to lift-up and progress the work of exceptional innovators”, who are already developing solutions to address one or more of the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

Speaking about how he felt on being selected to present his innovation at the upcoming summit, Dr Dhesi said he was proud to have contributed to the field of public health. 

“I feel that I have chosen the right path,” he said. 

The 32-year-old medical practitioner said that when he first started out in public health, people would often tell him that there was no future in public healthcare. 

“It is a cultural believe in medicine that when you graduate you must become either a surgeon or a physician,” he said. 

He also urged more medical practitioners to take up the challenge and to enter public health. 

Dr Dhesi also expressed his gratitude to the Health Ministry especially Minister Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam, director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah and deputy director-general Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman for supporting AIME. 

AIME will be partnering with mobile provider Webe Digital Sdn Bhd to launch the crowdsourcing mobile-based app in Malaysia by the end of October. 

Last month, Dr Dhesi was invited by the Brazilian Government to develop a preliminary pilot programme for stakeholders and clinics in Rio de Janeiro and its surrounding areas. 

In July, Dr Dhesi was recognised by Harvard University, along with AIME Inc co-founder Rainier Mallol, as among the top young health innovators, for developing the app.

 

Dr Dhesi , United Nations , dengue , zika

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