Using new technologies to improve disease surveillance activities in Sierra Leone

18. 10. 15
posted by: WHO-Sierra Leone

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS) commenced Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR) revitalization in January 2015 with technical and financial support from WHO and other partners.

As part of the process, several innovative technologies such as the use of electronic devices to conduct supportive supervision and Data Quality Assessment, have been used by surveillance officers to facilitate timely transfer of information, real-time tracking of data collection teams using the GPS enabled mobile devices and reduction in the delays for data entry and cleaning. Hence this has also improved the analysis and timeliness of report of surveillance data.

District Health Management Teams (DHMT) have not fully maximized the benefits from these innovations due to limited skills and knowledge of the technology and also the initial lack of required devices at district level.

In order for a continued improvement of the system, in September WHO and the Directorate of Health Security and Emergencies trained a total of 42 District Surveillance Officers (DSOs) and 14 Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) officers, evenly pulled from all 14 DHMTs and seven surveillance staff from the national level. The primary aim of the training was to ensure that the following objectives are achieved:

  • build capacity of DSOs and M&E staff during emergencies, to be able to quickly design electronic surveillance tools to capture location of emergencies, photos, audios, videos of the affected area and transmit data to national level in real time for prompt action
  • enable the national surveillance program to remotely monitor implementation of surveillance activities at district level
  • ensure that DSOs visit health facilities during district level support supervisions and DQAs

This initiative is considered as a positive catalyst for building on capacities for data management and analysis at district level to meet the growing demand for data collection, manipulation, visualization and analyses.