NEPAL – Pharmaceutical company GSK, and Microsoft have entered into a partnership with the Centre for Health and Disease Studies (CHDS) Nepal to initiate a disease surveillance project in Nepal.

The pilot project brings together expertise in biopharma and technology to enhance regional health interventions and help speed up the elimination of mosquito-borne diseases in the country.

The collaboration will make use of GSK’s knowledge of health and illness and Microsoft’s Premonition systems to study how artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics may help the response of local communities to vector-borne illness and climate change.

Microsoft Premonition systems were sent to Nepal earlier this month to create a network of biological weather stations covering three different ecosystems.

The systems are intended to aid in informing local decision-making and building more dependable health systems.

GSK said that the systems monitor insect species and gather biological samples using smart robotics and advanced optical detection to study how disease transmission is impacted by climate change.

Microsoft president and vice chair Brad Smith said: “New technologies play an important role in building society’s ability to respond and adapt to the disruption caused by climate change.

Combining Microsoft Premonition technology, deep health and disease expertise from GSK, and the leadership of public health organizations in Nepal will equip local decision makers with new data-driven insights to help prevent, plan, and prepare for challenges ahead.”

GSK’s expertise in disease prevention, funding, and international and local healthcare relationships will help in the coordination of the deployment and administration of the Premonition systems.

The pilot is expected to aid in the creation of new monitoring strategies for early disease detection and management, particularly in underprivileged populations where outbreaks can be identified too late.

The study is also anticipated to show robotic sampling and autonomous monitoring of harmful species in remote conditions. If successful, the goal is to get in more partners and take the project to other countries.

In a recent landmark milestone, a malaria vaccine with “world-changing” potential has been developed by scientists at the University of Oxford.

The team expects it to be rolled out next year after trials showed up to 80% protection against the deadly disease.

The World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier approved malaria vaccine, Mosquirix, made by British drugmaker GSK to combat malaria.

Oxford’s vaccine, called R21/Matrix-M, is likely more effective than Mosquirix in preventing the disease that kills about 600,000 a year despite roughly US$3 billion spent annually on insecticides, bed nets, and anti-malarial drugs.

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