Advancing GHSA: Lessons learned about strengthening HIS and disease surveillance

Pia D. MacDonald, Niamh Darcy, Rita Sembajwe, Eileen Reynolds, Henry Chidawanyika, Christopher Kelley, Michael McKay, Adam Preston, Gordon Cressman

Abstract


ObjectiveThe objective is to discuss two decades of international experiencein health information and disease surveillance systems strengtheningand synthesize lessons learned as applicable to implementation of theGlobal Health Security Agenda (GHSA).IntroductionRTI International has worked on enhancing health informationand disease surveillance systems in many countries, includingThe Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Guinea, Indonesia,Kenya, Nepal, Philippines, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.Strengthening these systems is critical for all three of the Prevent,Detect and Respond domains within the Global Health SecurityAgenda.We have deep experience in this area, ranging from implementingDistrict Health Information Software (DHIS), electronic medicalrecords, health facility registries, eHealth national strategies,electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response system(eIDSR), mobile real-time malaria surveillance and response, nationalweekly disease surveillance, patient referral system, and communitybased surveillance. These experiences and lessons learned can informwork being done to advance the GHSA.We will discuss several examples, including activities in Zimbabweand Tanzania. RTI has been working in Zimbabwe for over six yearsto strengthen the national health information system. This workhas included the configuration and roll-out of DHIS 2, the nationalelectronic health information system. In doing so, RTI examinedand revitalized the weekly disease surveillance system, improvingdisease reporting timeliness and completeness from 40% to 90%.Additionally, RTI has integrated mobile technology to help morerapidly communicate laboratory test results, a laboratory informationmanagement systems to manage and guide test sample processing,and various other patient level systems in support of health servicedelivery at the local level. This work has involved capacity buildingwithin the ministry of health to allow for sustainable support of healthinformation systems practices and technology and improvements todata dissemination and use practices.Similarly, RTI has worked for more than five years to helpstrengthening the National HIS in Tanzania. These activities haveincluded stakeholder coordination, developing national eHealthstrategy and enterprise architecture, harmonizing indicators,redesigning routine reporting instruments, national DHIS 2 roll-out,information technology infrastructure management and user helpdesk support, reducing the number of parallel information systems,data dissemination and use, development of district health profiles,development of the national health facility registry, and supportingroll-out of the electronic integrated disease surveillance system.MethodsWe will profile selected projects and synthesize critical lessonslearned that pertain to implementation of the GHSA in resourceconstrained countries.ResultsWe will summarize our experience and lessons learned withhealth information and disease surveillance systems strengthening.Topics such as those that relate to advancing the GHSA RealTime Surveillance and Reporting Action Package areas will bediscussed, including: indicator and event based surveillance systems;interoperable, interconnected, electronic real-time reporting system;analysis of surveillance data; syndromic surveillance systems;systems for efficient reporting to WHO, FAO and OIE; and reportingnetwork and protocols in country.ConclusionsOur experience working over the past 14 years in 9 countrieson different HIS and disease surveillance system strengtheningprojects has led to a deep understanding of the challenges aroundimplementation of these systems in limited resource settings. Theseexperiences and lessons learned can inform initiatives and programsto advance the GHSA.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v9i1.7770



Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 * http://ojphi.org