“Close to 10 % of the Indian population consumes some form of areca nut on a regular basis, but many are unaware of its harmful effects. Karnataka is the largest producer of areca nut in the country, and about 16% of the population consume areca nut. Consumption of areca nut causes OSMF, some of the symptoms of which include a burning sensation in the mouth, discomfort and difficulty in opening one’s mouth. It can also cause oral cancer in the long run,” MAHE students noted.
Group members Dr Priyanka Prasad, alumni MCODS, Viola D’Souza, PhD scholar, PSPH, Manipal, Soural Dandothi, alumni MIT, Dr Gopal Kasat, alumni MCODS and Dr Shriya Verma, alumni MCODS, have launched a comprehensive web app that educates and creates awareness on OSMF. It was launched on September 1.
Viola D’Souza said that app also looks to engage its audience to improve their knowledge on the diagnosis, symptoms as well as their treatment options at each stage of OSMF. An individual with OSMF is able to know at which stage of the disease he is in, and what are the options available for treatment. “Awareness on the ill-effects of areca nut consumption is limited. There are no health promotion events or awareness drives about the same. However, the disease is preventable,” stresses Viola explaining why they came up with the app.
Priyanka Prasad, a dental student points out that she came across several OSMF patients and decided to educate the community. “As dental students, we encounter many patients who came to the clinic with complaints of stained teeth, toothache, and burning sensation in their mouth. The culprit is high areca nut consumption and individuals unaware of the potential health risks. The app aims to improve awareness and educate the community about OSMF.”
The team have been working on the app for about six months to make it engaging and provide inclusive information about the condition in a way that improves health-seeking behaviour. The app can also be used by dentists in their clinics as a patient education aid to create awareness amongst their patients. It is currently available only in English, but they are looking to roll out versions in various regional languages so that it reaches the masses.