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AIT hosts 5th International Conference on healthGIS 2013: Mapping, Monitoring and Managing Human Health

23 Aug 2013

At the “5th International
Conference on healthGIS 2013”
hosted and co-organized by AIT
on 21-22 August at the National Science and Technology Development
Agency (NSTDA), Thailand Science Park, Pathumthani, Thailand;
diplomats, government policy makers, ICT experts, academics,
scientists, public health officials, and medical service providers from
Asia, Europe, and North America converged to network and share
knowledge about the latest GIS tools in the field of human

“This congregation of global experts from the medical and ICT sectors
has a unique opportunity to work out a strategy to provide better
healthcare and create a better world,” said conference chairman and
Acting Dean of the AIT School of Engineering and Technology Dr. Nitin
Kumar Tripathi at the opening ceremony.

The three-day conference, which attracted 125 scientific papers,
focused on the use of GIS and related ICT for exploring the various
causative factors for diseases, and deliberated on better planning of
health care systems.

Eighty-five delegates presented papers and posters under the technical
themes of Health GIS Database, Healthcare Planning and Management,
Waterborne Diseases and Immunity Deficiency, Vector Borne Disease,
Emerging Disease, ICT for Healthcare and Telemedicine, and Healthcare
Instruments and Technology, and Public Health Emerging Issues.

The event, which moves to Bangalore, India in 2015, is a platform to
share experiences, and to cooperate and work together to develop tools
and systems to understand the causes of emerging diseases, hotspots of
prevalent vector borne, bacteria borne, and water borne disease and to
support public health departments to control these diseases, Dr. Nitin
explained. “Telemedicine, in particular, is fast growing area of
expertise that provides answers to the challenges of lack of doctors
and medical centers in remote areas,” he said.

In his welcome address, H.E. Dr. Sahas Bunditkul, Member, Executive
Commttee, AIT Board of Trustees, said AIT was pleased that 30 percent
more papers were received for the conference compared to last. It
indicates growing interest by scientists in the international
conference spearheaded by AIT’s own Dr. Nitin, he said.

Providing good healthcare to people is one of the greatest challenges
facing countries in Asia, and the application of GIS has the potential
for better planning, the former deputy Prime Minister of Thailand said.
“I believe new ideas and knowledge from the experts from all around the
world will lead us to providing better health care for the world’s
people,” Dr. Sahas told the attending delegates.

Chief Conference Guest Associate Prof. Dr. Somchet Thinapong, Chairman,
Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, Ministry of
Science and Technology, Thailand, explained that his agency is
providing the tools and platforms from space to detect changes on the
earth that can assist geo-information technocrats and public health

Dr. Somchet, who is an AIT alumnus and a former member of the Board of
Trustees, added that the conference highlights the increasing role of
Thailand and AIT in the field. “This international gathering is
important since its work is intended to benefit mankind.”

In a themed welcome address, Dr. Amnuay Kajina, Office of the Permanent
Secretary, Ministry of Public Health, Thailand, told the conference
that that Thailand is now applying GIS for improved healthcare to its
citizens. ICT and health technologies are converging and are enabling
people to identify and pinpoint information such as available surgeons
and emergency medical services, he said. The Ministry is also devising
a healthGIS smart phone application for roll out and use by late 2013,
he added.

Representing one of the sponsors, Christina Bivona, Global Manager,
Health and Human Services, ESRI, USA, said, “Without health there can
be no wealth for any nation.” The powerful combination of smart
hand-held devices and big data technologies will enable difussion
of knowledge that can positively impact people’s health, she said.

Delivering a vote of thanks from co-hosts AIT and Mahasarakham
University, Organizing Secretary Dr. Hamid Mehmood, who is an AIT
alumnus working at the Institute of Space Technology, Pakistan, said
the scientific outputs of the conference will eventually translate into
better quality of life and improved health for humankind.

Added Dr. Nitin: “The challenges of today’s health issues can be
answered by modern technology. As we can see from this conference,
there are astonishing developments around the world in the field of ICT
to provide better healthcare.”

Dr. Masahiko Nagai, Associate Director,
Geoinformatics Center (GIC), AIT delivered a keynote address
on August 22. AIT alumnus Dr. M. Shahzad Sarfaz, Assistant
Professor, COMSATS Institute of Information Technology, Pakistan,
conducted a workshop on Geostatistical Analysis of Disease. 

The conference was organized by AIT, Geoinformatics
International, ESRI, Association for Geoinformation Technology,
and Mahasarakham University, Thailand. The event was sponsored by
Institut de recherche pour le developpement (IRD) and ESRI, Inc.

From left: Dr. Nitin Kumar Tripathi,  Dr. Sahas Bunditkul,
Dr. Somchet Thinapong, Dr. Amnuay Kajina, Ms. Christina Bivona, and Dr.
Hamid Mehmood