ghana health service, big data, korean telecom, disease prevention

The Ghana Health Service together with South Korea’s telecommunications company, KT Corp, has signed an agreement on the use of Big Data in preventing infectious diseases.

The signing ceremony held in Accra, Ghana, was attended by Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare – director-general of Ghana Health Service (GHS), and Yoon Jong-Jin, KT’s senior executive vice president in charge of public relations.

“We will help Ghana take the initiative in healthcare in West Africa. We will go beyond Africa and push for disease prevention in other parts of the world where the infrastructure for healthcare and education is still developing.” – Yoon Jong-Jin

KT Corp.’s agreement on disease control has drawn attention from the international health community, since this is its first with a public health agency, and also due to Ghana’s location in West Africa.
While the region suffered the most widespread Ebola virus epidemic in recorded history, between 2014-16, there is no confirmed Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case in Ghana to date, according to the WHO.

Other key attendees were the South Korean Ambassador to Ghana; Kim Sung-Soo, Michael Melchior; the Country Director of U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Ghana, the country representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr Owen Laws Kaluwa, Fiachra McAsey, Deputy Representative of UNICEF Ghana, and Mr. Yukyum Kim, Country Director of KOICA Ghana.

The disease prevention system which KT Corp started working on in 2016, analyzes location-based information including roaming data that it collects, uses the data to guide its customers on preventing epidemics, and builds a monitoring system that helps health authorities assess infection risk at the initial stage of an outbreak.

The project, which came a year after MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) hit Korea, was done in collaboration with the Ministry of Science and ICT and the National Information Society Agency to demonstrate how Big Data can be used in disease control.

With the project being successful, KT seeks to collaborate with foreign governments and international organisations on the use of Big Data and information technology in preventing the spread of infectious diseases – earlier suggesting a Global Epidemic Prevention Platform at the World Economic Forum’s annual conference in January this year.

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