Honourable Rosy Akbar, Minister for Health and Medical Services at the launch of the My Kana app.
The My Kana application developed by The University of the South Pacific (USP) in conjunction with Fiji’s Ministry of Health was launched by Honourable Ms Rosy Akbar, Minister for Health and Medical Services, during the inaugural National Nutrition Symposium at Suva’s Holiday Inn on 16 August, 2017.
With the symposium’s theme, “Scaling Up Nutrition and Food Security in Fiji”, the app will be an opportunity to apply the development of learning design and mobile technology to the Ministry of Health’s Strategic Priority 1, which is “Non-communicable diseases, including nutrition, mental health and injuries”.
Professor Jito Vanualailai, Director Research at USP, said it was a proud occasion for USP and Fiji, as the application, being the outcome of a Strategic Theme Research (SRT) project, was developed solely by local expertise from USP’s Centre for Flexible Learning and the Ministry’s National Food and Nutrition Centre (NFNC).
He noted that the “best of our people including those from USP and Ministry of Health came together and produced one of the best apps ever”.
Professor Vanualailai referred to the increasing number of people suffering from diabetes in the Pacific including those with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) saying it was a sad reality.
Staff from USP and the Ministry that developed the My Kana app. PC: Kristina Hoeppner.
“Hopefully, this My Kana app is an initiative that would contribute to the decline in statistics and USP would like to continue to produce more relevant research outcomes for our region,” he added.
Professor Vanualailai acknowledged the work from both the University and the NFNC saying that great things could be achieved if a concerted effort is put together by researchers in universities, the private sector and government.
In her keynote address, Honourable Rosy Akbar, Minister for Health and Medical Services acknowledged USP and NFNC for the development of such an app.
“Fiji faces a number of challenges and the key ones are nutrition and food security,” she noted.
She added these challenges need solutions “which require us to work together in a concerted effort, across government ministries, civil society, private sector, faith-based organisations and international and regional agencies”.
“Nutrition and food security is essential for sustainable and inclusive development as they are both preconditions for, and an outcome of development.
“National food security are also indicators of whether development is really inclusive and sustainable, whether our population is resilient to the effects of climate change and natural disasters and whether research in health and agriculture has actually helped us to improve the lives and livelihood of our vulnerable population,” she added.
The project, led by Dr Irene Yee-Chief, was funded by USP’s Research Office as a Strategic Research Theme (SRT) grant.
My Kana app is now available free on the Google Play Store for public use. Members of the public are encouraged to download the app by searching for My Kana in Google Play or follow this link: http://bit.ly/mykana
“We have worked very closely with NFNC in the design of this mobile app. The app provides NFNC a platform to reach out to the Fiji public to promote healthy eating habits. Central to the app design is the concept of a Healthy Plate,” Dr Chief said.
A user will be able to add their meals by selecting foods from the available list of local or imported foods. The application will display visually how healthy their plate is based on the ratio of the three (3) food groups - Health, Body Building and Energy. The user will also be able to monitor their daily meals and self-regulate their eating habits.
Key features of My Kana include:
1. Local food database - unlike other Food and Nutrition Apps, this app uses local foods listings from The Pacific Islands Food Composition Tables and the Fiji Shop Survey 2010;
2. Use of hand measure estimates: based on WHO recommended hand measures of fist, palm and thumb as alternatives to standard household measures or weighing foods. You do not need digital scales;
3. Healthy Plate: visual representation of the three food groups eaten compared to the recommended portions; and
4. Offline access: users will be able to use the app once installed without the need for internet access.
My Kana mobile app provides the opportunity for USP’s CFL, School of Education and the NFNC to collaborate in USP’s Strategic Research Theme of Human Capacity Building and Leadership.
The project team includes USP staff Dr. Yee Chief, Instructional Designer; Rajneel Totaram, Learning Systems Developer; Mojito Jione, Education Technologist and Fulori Sarai, Assistant Lecturer, School of Education; and NFNC staff Ateca Kama, Manager NFNC; Alvina Deo, Senior Nutritionist; Asaeli Naika, Nutritionist; and Jowalesi Taukei, Food and Nutrition Project Officer, NFNC.
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