Harnessing technology for surveillance in the battle against dengue can provide significant advantages over traditional methods. The utilisation of drones, as demonstrated in the collaboration between Suren Cooke Agencies (SCA) and the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) in Sri Lanka, has shown remarkable outcomes in dengue surveillance and prevention.
One of the major advantages of using technology, specifically drones, is the efficiency and comprehensive surveillance it enables. Drones can easily access areas that are otherwise difficult to reach, including premises without owners. This eliminates the need for extensive manpower and physical inspections that often involve climbing water tanks, high-rise buildings and roofs. By using drones, a surveillance campaign that would typically take a week with a large team can be completed within half a day with just a few Public Health Inspectors (PHIs). Furthermore, drones eliminate potential safety hazards associated with manual inspections. The presence of drones also encourages public engagement as they serve as a reminder for individuals to clean potential breeding sites within their own premises.
Another advantage is the data-driven approach facilitated by technology. The SCA-CMC partnership leveraged drones to gather real-time insights, which were then used to identify and map high-risk areas. This data-driven approach allowed for targeted interventions and prompt action, such as immediate spraying of chemicals with spray drone in breeding sites to prevent potential outbreaks. By having access to accurate and up-to-date information, authorities can see the areas which are highly vulnerable, compare statistics to understand the trends, make informed decisions regarding high-risk areas and allocate resources effectively.
Spray drones being equipped with a precision rate application also enables accurate targeting of the specific location, thereby saving the quantity of the substance required for spaying and dispersed on the environment.
The success of this initiative highlights the potential of technology in combating dengue. It serves as a precedent for future public-private partnerships that can strengthen national dengue control efforts.