From Manual to Real Time Data Collection in Ethiopia amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adaptability is key during public health outbreaks as a measure to improve response efforts

Testing the mobile platform in health facilities

Public health outbreaks during conflict and climate driven displacement can be critical, impacting the most vulnerable individuals within any community. Amid these outbreaks, humanitarian responders need timely and accurate data to ensure effective emergency operations. To improve response efforts, iMMAP has been supporting partners working with vulnerable communities across the globe.

One recent project iMMAP delivered to assist health response efforts was the Mobile Monitoring Platform to Strengthen the Public Health Surveillance System for the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI). With the support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the iMMAP-developed system aims to improve the way surveillance data is collected, consolidated, analyzed and reported, transforming the process from a completely manual system to a real time data collection and reporting mechanism, which notably improves the quality of data collected during public health outbreaks.

Power BI dashboard

Prior to commencing the project, the iMMAP team of experts conducted an analysis of the system requirements by assessing the current infrastructure and the needs of EPHI. Afterward, the team was able to develop a web application to access surveillance data and a mobile data collection system for easy use. These platforms were complemented by the development of a Power BI dashboard for visualization of epidemic patterns and a system that consolidates weekly reports from regional offices across the country. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, iMMAP was able to quickly adjust to the fluid environment and built a dashboard for COVID-19 which includes epidemiological data analysis and reporting.

It is a first-time experience for us in the EPHI-PHEM team to work with such a robust surveillance system that iMMAP has developed. The automation of the surveillance system is incredibly important to our work both during outbreaks and our routine monitoring. The data presentation using the Power BI dashboard is also very informative and useful for decision makingMuluget Assefa - PHEM data and information management team lead

The iMMAP team with the PHEM team lead

The system was accompanied by an extensive training package for ease of maintenance and administration of the system. The iMMAP team delivered an initial four-day training of trainers (ToT) for the Public Health Emergency (PHEM) officers and IT experts from EPHI focusing on data collection, data visualization using Microsoft Power BI, and a tailor made open source web application to support the validation of surveillance data. Moving forward, iMMAP is extending training at the sub-national level for over 110 individuals, covering several Woredas in Somali and Oromia regions.

The development of the mobile system has been beneficial for EPHI as it improves the timely collection of epidemiological data to support the automatization of the surveillance process. The tool also allows for enhanced data validation and verification to ensure accuracy and, through the Power BI dashboard developed by the iMMAP team, EPHI can access interactive visualization and data analysis to support their decision making processes when responding to public health outbreaks across Ethiopia.

COVID-19 dashboard