Keeping the World Cup Healthy

The Skoll Global Threats Fund is supporting the debut of a mobile app at the FIFA World Cup in Brazil to help track people’s health over the course of the event. This builds on the participatory surveillance work we’ve done around Flu Near You here in the U.S.  The tool is now available for download free of charge at the Play Store (Android) and Apple Store (iPhone/iPad) in Portuguese, English and Spanish. The application is intended for both Brazilian and foreign visitors. The app has been developed by EpiTrack, a local partner in Brazil.

The risk of disease outbreak is always a concern at mass gatherings like the World Cup, in which millions of Brazilians and foreign tourists are in motion across 12 host cities. Via the app, fans report their daily health status (very good, good, ill or very ill). If a fan reports not being well, he/she is asked to indicate one or more symptoms from a list of ten, including fever, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting and headache. The fan also reports if he/she has had contact or knows someone with any of the symptoms. If many fans in the same region report similar symptoms, surveillance teams can investigate. The Ministry of Health, in conjunction with state and local governments, can get an indicator of potential issues and adopt measures to inform and protect the public.

In addition to contributing to public health, with the Healthy Cup app fans have access to information such as the location of public and private hospitals, and nearby pharmacies, with maps. The app also includes information on health care and disease prevention, with direct access to the Twitter feed from the Ministry of Health and links to a Travelers’ Health Portal containing practical tips and essential information to help domestic and foreign tourists to protect their health during the trip.

This is a pilot project to explore the value of this kind of real-time reporting. If it proves successful, it could serve as a model for similar mass gathering events, such as the Hajj to Mecca or the Olympics.