World Pneu­mo­nia Day, which is observed on Novem­ber 12, is ded­i­cat­ed to increas­ing pub­lic aware­ness about pneu­mo­nia and the pre­ven­tion, treat­ment, and man­age­ment of the dis­ease. Most fre­quent­ly brought on by a num­ber of bac­te­ria and virus­es, pneu­mo­nia is an infec­tious res­pi­ra­to­ry ill­ness that results in the inflam­ma­tion of the air sacs in one or both lungs. Symp­toms include chest pain, cough­ing, fever, breath­less­ness, and a high tem­per­a­ture. Even though pneu­mo­nia can affect any­one, it can be espe­cial­ly dan­ger­ous for infants, old­er adults (65 years or old­er), peo­ple with oth­er seri­ous med­ical con­di­tions, and those with com­pro­mised immune sys­tems. If not diag­nosed and treat­ed prompt­ly, it may be fatal.

Approx­i­mate­ly 50 to 60 per­cent of pneu­mo­nia cas­es are caused by Strep­to­coc­cus pneu­mo­ni­ae (pneu­mo­coc­cus), a bac­teri­um that can live in the throat and nose with­out caus­ing any symp­toms but will some­times invade the lungs and cause an infec­tion.

Dur­ing influen­za sea­son, acute res­pi­ra­to­ry ill­ness­es like pneu­mo­nia may be hard to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from influen­za, lead­ing to delayed diag­no­sis and treat­ment, which in cas­es like pneu­mo­nia could be fatal. Diag­nos­tic pro­grammes to detect both pneu­mo­nia and oth­er res­pi­ra­to­ry infec­tions would be use­ful for pub­lic health sur­veil­lance, treat­ment, and pre­ven­tion.

At the height of the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, The SMASS (Swiss Med­ical Assess­ment Sys­tem) COVID Guide web appli­ca­tion was devel­oped to aid the pub­lic in rapid COVID-19 self-assess­ments and advise the users on the appro­pri­ate mea­sures to take based on their respons­es to the ques­tions posed by the appli­ca­tion. In March 2020, Intel­liSOFT Con­sult­ing Ltd, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a con­sor­tium of part­ners con­sist­ing of Eva­p­lan, In4medicine, aQua Insti­tute and Uni­ver­si­ty of Nairobi adapt­ed the SMASS COVID Guide tool for the Kenyan land­scape and dubbed it Afya Guide. The SMASS (Struc­tured Med­ical Assess­ment Sys­tem) Afya Guide is an online symp­tom-check­er whose goal is to assist the pub­lic to car­ry out self-assess­ment for flu-like symp­toms It can be used by both the gen­er­al pub­lic and med­ical pro­fes­sion­als as a rapid screen­ing assess­ment of flu-like symp­toms, thus pro­mot­ing access to qual­i­ty and time­ly health­care ser­vices to users.

Afya Guide is dri­ven by neur­al net­work tech­nol­o­gy, which allows com­put­ers to process data in a way that mim­ics the human brain, learn­ing from vast amounts of data and mak­ing deci­sions in a human-like man­ner. The nodes in the neur­al net­work have been trained on data from med­ical stud­ies and evi­dence cov­er­ing thou­sands of diag­noses. By iden­ti­fy­ing the under­ly­ing rela­tion­ships in the input data, the mod­el can accu­rate­ly relate the symp­toms of an Afya Guide user to the cor­rect diag­no­sis. For ill­ness­es like pneu­mo­nia, such a tool is high­ly valu­able as it allows users to get time­ly and ade­quate med­ical care thus pre­vent­ing  death.

Categories: World Health Days

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