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Smartphone App Tracks Progress Towards Trachoma Elimination in Africa

A new smartphone-based data platform called Tropical Data is helping 13 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America track their progress towards the elimination of trachoma, a neglected tropical disease (NTD).

Data collected using Tropical Data was mapped to show trachoma prevalence in children ages 1-9 in Malawi.

Tropical Data has already been used for surveys involving 360,000 people in communities where public health programs supported by The Task Force have been underway to eliminate trachoma.

“Tropical Data is a fast and powerful tool for helping us understand changes in prevalence after mass drug administration and other interventions,” said Paul Emerson, PhD, director of The Task Force’s International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). “If we can scale up this technology to more countries, this could potentially help us reach the elimination goal three to five years sooner.”

Tropical Data was built on the success of the Global Trachoma Mapping Project that used a similar smartphone-based data platform to map the baseline prevalence of trachoma worldwide. ITI manages the data collected by Tropical Data and stored in the Cloud, which provide countries with real-time views of trachoma prevalence that help inform program decisions and health policies. Countries receive equipment and other technical assistance in the operation of Tropical Data.

Although Tropical Data is currently being used to track progress toward trachoma elimination, the system is being modified to accommodate prevalence surveys for other NTDs in the future.

Tropical Data is a partnership among ITI, the World Health Organization (WHO), RTI International, and Sightsavers.

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