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IET joins national disease surveillance task

Bangalore, November 30, 2022: The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), in partnership with Siemens Healthineers India, the Centre for Health Research and Innovation (CHRI), and Capgemini, has developed a digital platform to enhance the national disease surveillance initiative.
The platform is called Social Analytics for Rapid Transformation in Health for India (SARTHI), which leverages publicly available digital data to track mentions of three disease conditions – Dengue, Malaria, and Chinkungunya.
SARTHI assimilates data available in the public domain across digital channels like online news broadcasts, forums, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and reviews to track mentions of the three disease conditions. The platform looks at granular data and can trace the origin of the information down to district and street locations.
SARTHI has huge implications for the real-time tracking of disease conditions in India and will lay the foundation of creating a model for predicting disease outbreaks, thereby helping to improve the preparedness of public health infrastructure. The project is part of a funded CSR project of Siemens Healthineers India, and aims to provide strategic technical support to the Government of India on the prevention and control of vector-borne diseases such as Malaria, Dengue, and Chikungunya. The platform is equipped with various means to present the data – map view, trend view, and table view with advanced filters across all recorded fields. It also enables macro as well as micro level information on the diseases. This can be useful in further decision-making to take appropriate and urgent action on the ground.
“We developed SARTHI as a prototype to understand the implications and advantages of using digital data for disease identification. We believe this has an exponential impact on the way we develop preventive health strategies in India, “ said Dr Vikram Venkateswaran, Co-Chair, of the Healthcare Working Group, IET, and founder of Healthcare India. “SARTHI required coordination across various organisations including Siemen’s Healthineers, CHRI, and Capgemini, which also shows us the way to collaborate and bring the ecosystem together to solve major problems in healthcare. But this is only the beginning we are working on developing a predictive model that can really help India proactively move healthcare resources and infrastructure to meet disease outbreaks” he added.
While India has had a disease surveillance program at the central and state levels with budgetary allocations of over INR 640 crore, it is currently based on decentralised lab data and has the potential for improvement through real-time monitoring and disease outbreak predictions. The current state of data collection and analysis will be lent impetus by the IET project as the entire process is likely to become even more challenging when data protection policies are implemented. A significant volume of non-personal data is available through online open-source platforms, which can serve as indicators of diseases. Employing user-generated data available in the public domain, focused analysis, and accurate predictions can be made to avert disease outbreaks in the country.
“The IET has always been ahead of the curve by leading innovative efforts across the country, utilising technology to engineer a better world. Through this project, we are hoping to aid the Government of India in its disease prevention and control efforts. The project has potential for nationwide application, and it also helps India in achieving Sustainable Development Goals of ‘Good Health and well-being’ and ‘Reduced Inequalities.’ Having capable partners like Siemens Healthineers India, Centre for Health Research and Innovation (CHRI) and Capgemini is a huge advantage for us as they complement the functioning and mission of the IET very well”, said  Shekhar Sanyal, Director and Country Head, IET India.
COVID-19 has been one of the major drivers of the widespread growth of digital healthcare in India. The Government has allotted almost Rs. 35,000 crores for disease surveillance programs, including vaccinations, and has spent Rs. 20,000 crores so far. The IET first launched the Disease Surveillance Project in March 2022, as an effort to improve India’s public health infrastructure preparedness and will now be presenting the platform to relevant stakeholders in the healthcare industry.