Participants at the e-IDSR Training
The Ministry of Health through the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI), trained district surveillance officers from Lusaka sub-districts on electronic integrated disease surveillance and response from June 18-22.
The training was aimed at instilling skills to the officers on identifying, reporting and analyzing data of priority diseases, conditions and events. It also aimed at making it easy to manage surveillance data which will ultimately improve detection and response to major disease threats by making surveillance and laboratory data more user friendly. As a result, this will allow for the smooth implementation of a comprehensive public health surveillance and response system that will help in keeping our communities healthy.
Timely reporting is key in building stronger health systems, and further in reducing the rate at which diseases, death and disabilities affect our communities. Equally important, is intensifying data management and surveillance particularly accuracy of data. The participants were also made to appreciate and understand the key roles they will be playing at facility level and their impact in contributing to the hierarchy of information flow to the entire health system in the country. “Your sub-districts will now be dependent on you to input surveillance data that will help in detecting and responding quickly to health events not only in the sub-district but this will further feed the district, province and country data,” said Mazyanga L. Mazaba, Head of Information Systems at ZNPHI.
The training empowered the officers to navigate around the indicators in the systems and to improve the flow of information under the public health program areas. Therefore, moving forward, there shall be seamless flow of information for both communicable and non-Communicable diseases within the health system.
Participants also had a chance to get introduced to the Open Data Kit (ODK) the mobile data collection system that is phasing out the use of paper questionnaires. This open source system integrates data collection and data entry with additional capabilities like the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) coordinates.
A number of innovations in medical devices and software, have changed how healthcare is being administered. It is notable that in the past few years, healthcare technology has been rapidly transforming in Africa and the government of Zambia has fully embraced these technologies in order to respond to local needs. In particular, Zambia like other countries adapted District Health Information System (DHIS 2) and Smart Care which houses other systems like IDSR in 2013.