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Parents of students given Dengvaxia can get info via mobile apps

Sofia Tomacruz
Parents of students given Dengvaxia can get info via mobile apps
Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua says parents can download the Abizo Dengue Vaccine Monitoring System application or the RSVP Kaizala application by end-August to receive alerts from DepEd and DOH, and get information on how to respond to symptoms

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Education (DepEd) and Department of Health (DOH) on Monday, July 16, said parents of students who were given the Dengvaxia dengue vaccine will be able to receive information on how to respond to symptoms of the illness using a mobile application.

DepEd Undersecretary Alain Pascua said parents can download the Abizo Dengue Vaccine Monitoring System (DVMS) application or the Register, Serve, Validate, and Plan (RSVP) Kaizala application by end-August to alert DepEd and the DOH about the health status of students who got the risky Dengvaxia vaccine.

“The mobile apps can be downloaded by parents, guardians, and teachers to enable them to report the conditions of learners such as redness or swelling of injection site, headaches, nausea, fever, etc,” Pascua said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this information from the parents will in turn alert DepEd and the DOH on how to respond to the health condition of students.

“The information that we get from the parents about their children, that is what is extremely important. More than the database per se, it’s really the information that parents will key in that will elicit a certain response by DepEd and DOH,” Duque said at the sidelines of the event.

According to Pascua, parents or guardians of students will receive surveys from the DepEd and DOH that will ask parents to provide information on the current health status of children.

It will also allow parents to report any symptoms and inform them about steps needed to respond. For instance, parents will be told where children can receive treatment such as health units or hospitals as well as immediate steps that can be taken to treat those exhibiting possible symptoms of the illness.

However, Pascua said details on proper procedures for these are still being ironed out.

Meanwhile, Duque reminded the public that local government units also need to participate as they are responsible for providing primary care to patients. (READ: Duque: Access to primary health care depends on coordination with LGUs)

All access?

Asked how DepEd and the DOH can assure parents of the more than 830,000 students that they will have access to the applications, Pascua said that DepEd would campaign in schools to encourage parents to register on the platforms.

PREVIEW. A preview of the Abizo DVMS app shows parents can report on the state of health of their children. Photo by Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler

“We will campaign in the schools because it would be in their best interest to be registered…It’s not compulsory but we will encourage the parents,” Pascua told Rappler.

Given the need for smartphones to access these applications, Pascua added that DepEd is reaching out to telecommunication companies to hopefully make the services available via SMS messaging.

“We are looking at partnerships with the telcos that will provide the unhampered access between the user and the data. We are still reaching out to them,” Pascua said.

Jun Lozada, founder and chief executive officer of Galileo Software Services – which developed the Abizo DVMS app – also said that while not all parents may be able to access the mobile applications immediately, it would address the number of parents that could already do so.

“The whole idea is mobile penetration in the country is more than 100% and smartphone penetration is past 70%. This is another effort to include technology in the arsenal of the tools that they can use for this. It’s better than nothing and if we are already going to be able to hit more than 70%-80% of parents, let’s give it to them,” Lozada told Rappler.

“Let’s not deny the 70 or 80% who have access to the phone just because 20% may not have it,” he added.

Complementary platform

However, Duque and Pascua both clarified that the mobile applications will not replace the primary monitoring system of DepEd and DOH launched last year. Instead, the platforms will complement these efforts already in place.

Duque also maintained that the applications were “very significant” in that both DepEd and DOH would have closer monitoring of these students.

“(The applications are) very, very significant because at least you’ll have a closer monitoring for adverse events. You’re not only monitoring dengue incidents but you’re also monitoring other possible adverse events,” he said.

Monitoring

In December 2017, the DOH started monitoring students by giving out ballers and health monitoring cards to the more than 830,000 Filipino children who got the Dengvaxia vaccine.

The DepEd, through Memorandum No. 199 also issued last December 2017, required all schools to review the master list of vaccinated students to identify them and monitor closely for any symptoms.

Duque said should the system work, it would be a “promising” way to monitor the state of public health of citizens and other illnesses.

“This is complementary but if it’s a good application, a good system to monitor for other diseases or illnesses like leptospirosis, typhoid fever, or hepatitis, it’s a very promising tool to complement current DOH efforts to monitor the state of health of our people, and in particular our children,” he said.

The RSVP Kaizala application and the Abizo DVMS application were developed by technology companies Indra Philippines in partnership with Microsoft and Galileo Software Services Incorporated, respectively.

The RSVP Kaizala app will function on Android and Microsoft systems while the Abizo DVMS can be used on iOS and Android systems free of charge. – Rappler.com

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.