SINGAPORE - There is a new weapon in the war against dengue and Zika, and it fits right inside your smartphone.
Jointly developed by North West Community Development Council (CDC), Holland Bukit-Panjang Town Council and the National Environment Agency (NEA), Mozzie Watch Keeper @ North West is an interactive e-learning mobile application launched on Tuesday (May 24) in an effort to rally the community to learn about, prevent, spot and report cases of potential mosquito breeding grounds.
According to NEA, the warmer weather this year has shortened the breeding cycles of mosquitoes, which has resulted in an unusually high number of dengue cases since the start of this year - at least 7,968 so far.
The app was therefore developed to address the urgency of dengue prevention, as well as in light of the recent Zika case.
The app contains a Spot and Report module, with which users can take pictures of potential mosquito breeding grounds and report them to NEA. It also has an e-learning quiz module aimed to create awareness of and provide knowledge for effective dengue and Zika prevention.
The app was launched at Zhenghua Primary School. Adelei Tock, 12, a Primary 6 student at the school, said she hopes to learn more about dengue and Zika prevention. "Everyone must do their part in preventing dengue completely," she said in a video showcasing the school's dengue prevention efforts.
Dr Teo Ho Pin, mayor of North West District, was at the launch to try the app with students. He said: "We must be vigilant about dengue and Zika, and do our part to perform the five-step Mozzie Wipeout at home and in surrounding areas."
He added that he hoped the app would contribute to "make North West District and our schools a safer place for students and residents".
Dr Teo also hopes that the app will provide students with the relevant knowledge to "Mozzie-proof" their homes and enable them to spread such knowledge to their peers, families and fellow residents in preparation for the coming school holiday season, when many families will be travelling overseas.
The app has a charity aspect to it as well - for every successful completion of the e-learning module by a participant, the Building & Estate Management Alumni (BEMA) of the National University of Singapore (NUS) will make a $2 donation towards the North West Student Support Fund, up to $30,000.
The fund provides basic tuition, transport and meal allowance, and stationery and book vouchers to about 3,000 needy students residing in the North West District yearly.
This is not the first time a CDC has tapped on technology to combat dengue and Zika. Earlier this week, South West CDC and NEA collaborated with global life sciences company Bayer to develop Bayer Dengue Learning Lab, an online educational portal on mosquito-borne diseases.