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Our People: Interview with our Chief Digital Officer – Nilesh Dosooye

The 5-2035 Movement of the GFCH being founded by the people for the people, the newsletter will be essential in showcasing the people who invest their time as volunteers to help realize our goals. In this first edition we will get to know Mr. Nilesh Dosooye, Chief Digital Officer of the GFCH. After high school at Royal College Curepipe in Mauritius, Mr. Dosooye completed graduate work in Computer Science in the USA before working in Silicon Valley’s buzzing tech industry for over 2 decades. As one of the movement’s original members, he has been leading the digital efforts of the organization and is currently spearheading a project to give the foundation’s website a makeover. Without further ado, let’s meet Mr. Nilesh Dosooye! Hi Nilesh! So tell us, how did a tech person like yourself engage in the fight against diabetes? While I grew up in Mauritius and spent half of my life there, I have been living away from the motherland for over 2 decades and I have always had a yearning to do something for my country and its rainbow people. This quote from John Kennedy has deep appeal to me: “Ask not what your country can do for you — Ask what you can do for your country.” When about 10 years ago I was presented with the opportunity to develop the 5-2035 vision from the ground up, I felt very privileged to be able to help in such a laudable dream. In the beginning there were only a handful of us dreamers: people like Shiv Sohur, Ganesha Singaravelloo, Mahmud Rajabalee, Caroline and Sooriya Tandrayen, then came others like Jay Luchoomun, Nileema Jeetah, Vince Oxenham, Dave Gunput, Quentin Adam, Pranav Dhunnoo, Bill Burke and many others. I am so proud that we stuck to our principles to build a movement that would be driven by evidence-based medicine, that would be economically attractive and that we would be ferociously non-sectarian and non-partisan as we felt that it was the only way we stand a chance to make a dent in Mauritian health for the better. The emerging success of our 5-2035 Movement is a testament to the hard work of many people, all patriots in my opinion. We are all driven by a deep desire to give back to our homeland without expecting anything in return. In addition to this group of Mauritians, we find within the organisation many more volunteers whom we call friends of Mauritius, who see value in the 5-2035 Vision of empowered community health to curb diabetes and related preventable conditions that we are building to be a model for the world. Our success has exceeded my expectations. Any advice you would give to others who are not professionally involved in life sciences to proactively contribute in this fight? The challenge of CNCD is tremendous because in Mauritius it seems that we have come to accept the terrible situation as a fact of life. That 40% of the population is diabetic or pre-diabetic and that 80% of such cases can be avoided is simply not normal, but we Mauritians have come to take it as normal. This is a fight for everyone of us. It does not matter what professional field you are in, this is an existential fight for you, for your family and for your children. Healthcare is our collective responsibility and we need all of you to be part of the movement be able to win this battle. About the website, could you tell us how the revamped version, with its new features and content, will help forge ahead the GFCH’s mission? The initial version of the website was focused on the scientific and academic communities to allow us to recruit the leadership team and to showcase the project to institutions and authorities. It achieved its goals. We are now in a different phase of GFCH and our new focus is on our grassroots movement and growing our membership in the nations where we have a presence on the ground. The new website offers the general public general education and easy ways to help with our mission . We also provide our grassroots with easier access to information, and empower them to use our community features to grow membership. Any challenges that you have faced along the process? We are a team of globally distributed volunteers working on the project from across the world. So, it does come with its set of challenges to be collectively creative and make decisions fast and get people to feel involved in the decision making. We have solved some of the problems by effective use of the right tools and processes. We are still growing as a team and we are learning to work collectively as a remote team of volunteers to enable everyone in the team to feel empowered to move the mission forward. Could you treat us with a visual sneak peek of this big project of yours? We are in the midst of it – we have picked the platform and the toolset we need for the website. It’s still a work in progress. Quentin Adam has been leading the new visual design and he has done a tremendous job at it. Here’s a sneak peek of what we’re working on:
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Lastly, as the foundation’s resident tech person, how do you think existing and upcoming technologies will help both clinicians and patients in the fight against diabetes and CNCDs in the near future? Technological advances are making diabetes management and preventative care more accessible and easy for patients. Diabetics need to be aware of their blood sugar fluctuations to be able to better control it. Newer sugar monitoring devices such as the Abbott FreeStyle Libre attaches itself to a patient’s arm (very discrete with a small form factor) and constantly monitors blood sugar. Patients can then wirelessly use their smartphones to check their blood sugar in real-time. The device collects all the data in a private patient cloud and this data can then be automatically sent to the clinician for analysis and monitoring of their clients. There are also experimental technologies such as smart contact lenses, that can monitor your blood sugar from your eyes in a non-invasive fashion. These have not yet received approval, but these are things we’ll see in the near future. They all fall in the Consumer Wearables category, and will get more ubiquitous in our daily lives. Another aspect of diabetes management, is monitoring the food we eat and its caloric value as well as its fat and sugar contents, and exercising. With everyone owning smartphones these days, this task has become easy. Patients can scan, track and analyze food they eat in easy ways. That data can be shared to their dietician to better monitor users and allow them to better control the foods that cause blood sugar fluctuations. All these technologies make data collection less of a chore, and give clinicians access to better and more complete data to help patients effectively manage their diabetes. Version française
The questions were prepared by Dr. Pranavsingh Dhunnoo, the Newsletter’s Executive Editor.