Operation Asha (OpAsha) and Foundation Pierre Fabre on Tuesday launched its “eCounselling App” to strengthen the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) across the Kingdom.
OpAsha CEO Sandeep Ahuja said during the ceremony at Phnom Penh’s Sunway Hotel that the initiative had already helped health agents in India to prevent and treat TB.
Ahuja said that due to its success in India, OpAsha entered the Cambodian health sector in 2010.
He said this new application would help health service providers and relevant NGOs and government organisations to collect detailed data before offering medical consultation and treatment to patients with TB.
“In Cambodia, all staff and agents in our institute are Cambodian nationals, except the country manager who is Indian. We provide TB consultation and treatment directly to Cambodian patients in rural areas – people who otherwise would not have access to consultation services or medical treatment,” Ahuja said.
The eCounselling App consists of nine short animated films detailing the different aspects of TB treatment, such as the spread of infection, medication, the importance of sticking to treatment courses, and guidance for social workers and individuals working in the control of the disease.
OpAsha programme director in Cambodia Dr Narith Ratha said eCounselling would be embedded in an “eCompliance suite”, a biometric tracking software developed by OpAsha to improve adherence to treatment.
He said the app will record patients’ medical history, so they can automatically receive consultation services and medical treatment from health providers.
“The project will initially be tested in three areas – Phnom Penh and Takeo and Kampong Thom provinces. We hope that Cambodian people suffering from TB will obtain effective consultative services and medical treatment, and the programme will help the national campaign to combat TB achieve its goals,” Ratha said.
He said symptoms of TB include coughing that lasts more than a week, coughing up blood, fever, fatigue, unintentional weight loss and pain in the bones of the shoulder.
People experiencing such symptoms should seek medical advice in order to receive proper treatment.
He said it takes six months to a year for medical pills to cure the disease, so staying the course is extremely important, even for patients who feel better.
If patients stop taking pills as recommended by their doctor or clinic, the disease can return and become more difficult to cure.
National Centre for Tuberculosis and Leprosy Control (CENAT) director Dr Mao Tang Eang, who participated in the launch of the eCounselling App, said the incidence of TB worldwide had decreased in recent years and among over 10 million TB patients, only 1.3 million died from the disease.
He said in Cambodia, TB cases had decreased between three per cent and 3.5 per cent per year.
“TB remains a cause of great concern and an obstacle to reducing Cambodian poverty. It requires solid strategies to research, track and provide consultative services and treatment for TB patients in an effective and sustainable way."
“This programme will help CENAT to reach its target, which is to reduce the TB incidence rate by 80 per cent by 2030 compared to 2015, a goal which was set by the World Health Organisation,” Tang Eang said.