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Doctors to benefit from new death cause app

Wednesday 16th December 2015
Doctors have invented a new app to improve the recording of death causes around the world. Image: iStock/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
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Doctors around the world are set to benefit from the invention of a new app that allows medics to record causes of death.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington have spent the past ten years developing the app.

It enables medical professionals around the world to record the reasons why their patients have died, allowing doctors in other countries to understand which health problems are currently an issue.

Lead author of the study Professor Alan Lopez from the University of Melbourne explained: "Without accurate cause of death information, we can't monitor disease and injury trends, we can't keep track of emerging health problems and we don't have any markers to show us whether programmes and policies are actually working.

"So if you live in a country where no one is dying from malaria, then why are you pouring money into malaria-prevention programmes?"

Estimates suggest that some 35 million deaths go unregistered across the globe each year, many of which occur in developed countries that are home to around 80 per cent of the world's population.

In a bid to bring an end to this and to ensure accurate cause of death data is collected in the future, the study saw relatives of recently deceased individuals being given short surveys to complete via an app. They were asked about their family member's symptoms and general health, with a computer analysing the information provided to determine an accurate diagnosis and cause of death.

Professor Lopez added it is vital that doctors have access to up-to-date information on causes of death so this knowledge can be used to inform government policies to prevent premature deaths - something the app allows to take place easily, cheaply and in real time.

So far, the app has been tested in India, Mexico, the Philippines, Tanzania, China, Sri Lanka and Papua New Guinea, with its creators hoping it will reach even further afield in the near future.

Written by James Puckle

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