By Raisa Okwaras
The Gambia has become the first African country to make a progressive step by launching the first digital immunization registry in Africa. This journey had begun six years ago when the plan to create a new Health Management Information System (HMIS) started.
In 2016, the Gambian Ministry of Health signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with ActionAid International and The Gambia/Shifo International to create a new and modern HMIS in the country.
That led to the implementation of a novel hybrid paper-digital solution which collects, shares, stores, and dispenses data. It does this for the Expanded Programme for Immunization (EPI) using the Smart Paper Technology (SPT).
After years of testing, evaluation, and integration, the Smart Paper Technology solution underwent a successful integration with DHIS2- the world’s largest HMIS. With this, the SPT feeds data directly to the DHIS to, hence leading to progressive benefits like avoiding the error-prone manual data entry process.
Some of the main benefits of the launch include reduction of the administrative time spent by health workers during service delivery, hence allowing the decision-makers at the Ministry of Health in the Gambia the ease to monitor progress and performances of health facilities based on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Others include the expandability of the digital registry to cover the entire primary healthcare and its sustainability of operating within the current government budgets.
Such helps to empower the health workers in The Gambia to reach and support families of children under five in need of immunization. In return, it makes it easy for the MoH and the funders to track and trace regions with the biggest setback with immunization rollouts. In addition, it has reduced the amount of time that health workers spend to look through, compile, and report the immunization records, allowing them to focus on other more important issues.
According to ActionAid International and The Gambia/Shifo Foundation Health Innovation Officer Yerro Cham, the Smart Paper Technology has led to a 99 percent level of data accuracy. This has easen service delivery, follow-ups, and reporting, leading to little-to-no error and ease of tracing, validation, and reporting.
Its efficiency also makes it easy to identify low-performing health facilities and to quickly get the actual reason behind the underperformance.
Source: The Alkamba Times.