Nation Deploys New Digital Tools for COVID-19 Surveillance, Response

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Addis Ababa, March 30/2020( ENA)Ethiopia has unveiled a suite of new digital health tools that enhance surveillance, monitoring, and tracking of Coronavirus cases in response to the COVID-19 pandemic today. 

A team of experts led by Ministry of Health and Ethiopian Public Health Institute have been working to configure and deploy digital information systems for public health officials and policymakers to access accurate, real-time information during the pandemic.

Health Minister, Dr. Lia Tadesse said the world had seen the evidence shared by WHO and other health experts on how we can help flatten the curve to slowing down the spread of the epidemic and mitigating against the risk it creates.

“Doing so will require individual and collective protective measures that stamp out new chains of transmission while also mitigating the damage of the spread of COVID-19,” she added.

According to her, the tools are critical in terms of routinely collecting surveillance data, tracking suspects, tracing contacts to confirmed cases, issuing lab requests and receiving results, and monitoring COVID-19 patients until their health outcome is determined.

Dr. Lia pointed out that “these tools will be integrated with the other existing systems developed by our partners for better consistency and timeliness of all COVID-19 related information.”

Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI) Director General, Dr. Ebba Abate said on his part “the digital tools will support the enrollment and tracking of suspected cases, create lab requests, link confirmed cases with contacts, and monitor patient outcomes.”

As a result, he stated that call center agents, rapid response team members, medical officers, lab technicians, and national and local health authorities involved in the Coronavirus response will be able to do their jobs more efficiently.

USAID Mission Director Sean Jones noted that “data is not going to stop Coronavirus by itself, but will serve as an essential tool for epidemiologists and health authorities to monitor and respond to the crisis more effectively.

As the disease burden increases, there is a need to support health workers fighting COVID-19, as well as other diseases, he said, adding that “this is why USAID is proud to partner with the Government of Ethiopia and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in building a resilient healthcare system that can better withstand the shocks of pandemics through the use of technology for more timely and accurate data to inform response efforts.”

The new systems were developed with support from USAID’s Digital Health Activity, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Data Use Partnership, and youth volunteer group to support the fight against COVID-19 across the country, it was learned.