Meet the Team - Iheanyichukwu Uzoma

Meet Iheanyichukwu Uzoma, an associate manager with our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department.

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He joined eHA as a Technical Project Manager seventeen months ago; currently, Iheanyi supports GIS tracking activities and analyzes polio vaccination coverage data for settlements in Borno and Yobe states. He also supervises operations for our Vaccinator Tracking Systems project .

One of his biggest achievements is the development of a Missed Settlement Tracking and Analysis (MISTA) Tool, which has been instrumental in identifying, naming and planning immunization campaigns for missed and previously unnamed settlements.

On a daily basis, my team and I are able to resolve lingering issues with tracking and addressing missed settlements during Polio campaigns in security-challenged states like Borno and Yobe states. I am glad because I get to add value to my team and make a positive impact. By participating in these activities, I am also being impacted upon.
— Iheanyichuwku Uzoma

Iheanyi is passionate about capacity building and development, not just for himself but for his colleagues. eHealth Africa, he says, has given him the opportunity to share his knowledge and skills with his team and with other staff across the organization. Iheanyi is very well known across eHA for his role in the rollout and adoption of the official project management methodology, Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2), across the organization. His facilitation and coordination efforts contributed to a 93% success rate in the PRINCE2 Certification examinations taken by a number of eHA staff recently.






eLearning - The Journey so far

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At eHealth Africa, one of our strategic objectives is to increase access to high-quality eLearning resources for healthcare workers to achieve proficiency in healthcare delivery, management, and leadership.

In line with this, eHealth Africa collaborated with the Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB) and other implementing partners, to deploy its eLearning solution on a pilot scale to health workers in Kano State. The eLearning platform is web and mobile-enabled and can be accessed by participants through their Kano Connect android phones.

Fifty- seven Ward Technical Officers (WTOs) and Health Facility In-charges (HFICs) from facilities across three local government areas of Kano state— Gabasawa, Nassarawa and Fagge LGAs—were selected and trained to utilize the eLearning platform. The aim was to improve the delivery of health services in Kano State by providing health workers with access to texts and audio courses and training modules.

Jibrin Mohammed, a Ward Technical Officer from Nassarawa LGA in Kano State shares his experience with the eLearning modules on routine immunization

After a pilot period of 3 months, the health workers who completed all the modules on the platform were awarded certificates of completion at an award ceremony on November 2, 2018. The ceremony was presided over by the Executive Secretary of Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB), Dr. Nasir Mahmoud. During the ceremony, selected participants shared their experiences with the platform and testified that they were better able to provide quality Routine Immunization (RI) services at their respective facilities because of the knowledge they had gained.

Following a successful pilot in Kano State, the RI content currently available on the platform is set to be scaled-up to 18 states in Nigeria, with an estimated number of 3000 health workers per state, to participate. Plans are also underway to expand the curriculum to include content on programs such as Cholera, HIV, Malaria, and Maternal and Child health.




Aether 1.0 and Gather 3.0 software releases are out!

Today eHA and the Aether team reached an important development milestone in their contribution to the ehealth open source community -- the release Aether 1.0 and Gather 3.0.

The belief that timely access to accurate data can save lives drives our commitment to create open source software for the development and sustainability of ehealth solutions. We believe that by facilitating the collection, curation, and exchange of relevant health data, we empower decision makers and improve the effectiveness of public health interventions.

With this in mind, last year we started working on Aether, an ambitious project to create a framework for the development of ehealth solutions. We wanted to build a platform that could facilitate developers' work and ensure that ehealth products were built with the highest standards for interoperability, security, and privacy.

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OPEN SOURCE RELEASE

We started transforming that vision into a concrete product in September 2017, and in July the following year, we celebrated the open source release of both Aether and Gather.

Aether is a reliable and secure development platform that enables organizations to build solutions that curate and exchange live information. Aether utilizes “data contracts” between systems, simplifies the movement of data between applications, and helps developers adhere to best practices for ehealth system design.

Gather is the first solution built on top of the Aether platform. Gather is a data collection and curation tool that securely collects data in the field and shares it everywhere it is needed. Thanks to Aether, Gather can perform data curation activities like data masking for privacy requirements and can easily be integrated with other systems and workflows for management, transformation, and analysis purposes.

We were committed to making these projects open source both as a way to give back to the public health community we have been active in for years and so that feedback could be used to quickly improve the solutions. Since their development and release, Aether and Gather have been used by eHA and our partners in a variety of projects.

DEPLOYMENTS

Understanding malaria awareness and practices among young people in Sierra Leone

In July 2018, we partnered with Restless Development and CUAMM Africa in Sierra Leone to provide data collection infrastructure for a malaria prevention campaign called "Youth-Led Malaria Prevention Messaging Survey".
The campaign aims to help public health authorities understand young people’s knowledge, attitude, and behavior towards malaria prevention and treatment. We use Gather for data collection and Aether to connect to a Kibana Dashboard for data analysis visualization. So far, 2,417 survey responses have been submitted.

Building a global high-quality humanitarian health facility database

In July 2018, we were awarded funding for a collaborative global health site mapping project with Healthsites.io. The objective of the initiative is to create a high-quality database that includes information on facility locations, medical staff, and services, which can be used to improve humanitarian crisis response. Data collectors will use Gather in the field to capture health facility data, which will then be connected and shared via Aether to Healthsite.io, Open Street Map, and Humanitarian Data Exchange.

Collecting geodata to gain insight into Nigeria and DRC Health and Demographics

In August 2018 we started implementing Aether and Gather in Kaduna State as part of the the GRID3 project, a multi-country initiative to support underserved communities by collecting and analyzing on points of interest such as settlements, roads, and hospitals. The geodata collected through Gather is automatically published via Aether to a publicly available, customized CKAN instance. As of October 12, 2018, 513,084 points of interest have been submitted through Gather.
Since August, eHA’s involvement in the GRID3 project has expanded into multiple states in Nigeria and to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For its use in the DRC, we customized Gather in partnership with UCLA, CIESIN, Oak Ridge and Flowminder. The GatherDRC mobile app was built specifically for microcensus and other mapping tasks.

THE RELEASE AND NEXT STEPS

You can now download Aether 1.0 and Gather 3.0 and start using the software yourself.

Though this is an important milestone in our development process, it is only the beginning of a much longer journey. Currently, we are working toward the development of new features that will allow multi-tenancy, data validation rules, and workflows. In addition, connectors for other ehealth applications will be added, including:

BPMN: Integrate with Workflow processes and tools like Camunda

Zapier: Participate in data exchange with 100’s of existing Apps

DHIS2: Bi-Directional data exchange with DHIS2 API

FHIR: Bi-Directional data exchange via FHIR standard

We look forward to hearing your feedback on our products and hearing from interested organizations and potential partner that are interested in using Aether and Gather for the global good.

Get in touch with us at solutions@ehealthafrica.org

World Development Information Day

The United Nations established World Development Information Day—October 24—to draw global attention to development problems and the need to disseminate information which can stimulate cooperation and partnership.

As the world attempts to attain the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, the necessity for accurate information and data becomes even more vital. In the face of insufficient resources and competing priorities, governments require data to make decisions about what challenges, interventions, and programs to invest in.

At eHealth Africa, we use the virtuous cycle approach to guide the implementation of all our projects. We believe that collecting, analyzing, and presenting accurate data provides us and our partners with insight to execute our projects. Many of our projects and solutions such as the Geo- Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) and LoMIS Suite aim to provide governments and other decision-makers with up-to-date, accurate information that can help them make the best decisions for various populations. We also develop tools and technologies that make the process of data collection and analysis even more efficient.

 Geospatial map generated from data collected on the field

Geospatial map generated from data collected on the field

Here are a few examples of how eHA is providing real-time data to aid development through our projects.

  • LoMIS Stock is a component of LoMIS Suite, a solution developed to address vaccine inventory challenges. Health workers at the facility level can enter data on a daily basis and submit weekly reports about vaccine stock levels and the status of cold chain equipment through the mobile application. Supervisors can access this data through the LoMIS Stock dashboard and address issues such as low vaccine stock levels and cold chain equipment faults,  at the health facility promptly. Thanks to this real-time data, vaccine stock-outs can be prevented.

 Data gathering in the field

Data gathering in the field

  • Through the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3), eHealth Africa has collected geospatial data for over 500,000 points of interests including schools, farms, water points, health centers etc. across 25 states and the Federal Capital Territory. Using this data, decision makers in various sectors can plan programs and interventions to effectively address key population groups. Currently, the GRID3 team is conducting a data and technology transfer to the Kaduna State Bureau of Statistics (KDBS) to ensure that the state government and relevant ministries, departments and agencies are able to analyze and utilize this data for development.

  • Earlier this year, eHA launched Aether, a reliable and secure development platform that enables organizations to build solutions that curate and exchange live information. Aether was developed to address the recurring challenges we faced when building tailored solutions for individual projects. There was a clear opportunity to solve these challenges with a unique application that made large-scale data collection and curation easier so that informed decisions could be reached faster. Aether facilitates interoperability and addresses the issue of data security and privacy and is available as open source and is freely available to everyone.

At eHealth Africa, we believe in the power of data to transform lives and stimulate development. This World Development Information Day, we are more committed than ever to support our partners and stakeholders by developing tools and technologies that can improve access to accurate data.


Meet the Team - Adam Butler

Meet Adam Butler, the Technical Team Lead in the Germany office, and the voice of eHA’s Aether and eIDSR videos!

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Adam joined eHA in May 2015 as a software developer before switching to a project management role and then Technical Team Lead in the Germany office, where he manages the Berlin-based developers, designer, and project manager. His role also includes technical project management, currently on Aether, Aya, Gather, and Gather DRC, a microcensus project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

I think anyone who works at eHA has a lot to be proud of. On a high level, I’m proud to have been able to make a small contribution to the (hopefully) imminent eradication of Polio. More specifically, I’m very happy with how we’ve managed to take the Gather application and expand it into the Aether platform; I think that Aether will revolutionize the way that solutions are developed here at eHA. I’m also very curious to see how it will be used by the wider open source community.
— Adam Butler

When he is not voice acting—stay tuned to hear him in upcoming Gather and Laboratory Services videos—Adam helps decide what eHA should build and how to go about building it. Throughout these processes, he supports the development team by providing them with the tools and information they need to produce the best work they can.

In his leadership role, one of the biggest challenges Adam has faced has been resisting the temptation to dive into code himself to start trying to fix a problem. Instead, as a manager, he focuses on clearing the way for a developer on his team who really knows what they’re doing to solve the issue.

Click here to learn more about joining our team.



"Connecting the Dots - Geodata in Healthcare"- The eHA Meetup in Berlin

By Benedetta Ludovisi

Geographic data and accurate maps are essential for improving public health outcomes. Up-to-date information on where people live, the best way to reach them, and the location of nearby medical facilities is fundamental to enhancing healthcare systems. When settlements and points of interest are surveyed and mapped, frontline healthcare workers and medical supplies can reach even the most remote communities. The proliferation of geographic information systems (GIS) technology and spatially enabled data collection tools have helped governments and NGOs connect the dots in public health and improve effectiveness of health interventions.

 Connecting the dots - Geodata in Healthcare” audience ready for the Q&A  session

Connecting the dots - Geodata in Healthcare” audience ready for the Q&A  session

  Johanna Roegele, the Managing Director of eHA German office, welcomes attendees and introduces the speakers for the evening

Johanna Roegele, the Managing Director of eHA German office, welcomes attendees and introduces the speakers for the evening

In order to take a closer look at this topic, our Germany-based office partnered with Viderum to host "Connecting the dots - Geodata in Healthcare" on September 19 at the co.up coworking space in Berlin, the second in a series of technology and global health meetups in Germany.

Johanna Roegele (Managing Director, Germany Office, eHealth Africa) welcomed attendees and introduced eHA’s and Viderum's speakers for the evening. She also shared her vision for these meetups—a forum to share the work eHA does with Berlin’s tech and global health communities, and to create opportunities for innovative organizations to partner and learn from each other.

 Sebastian Moleski, Viderum's CEO, introduces their mission to the audience

Sebastian Moleski, Viderum's CEO, introduces their mission to the audience

The second speaker was Sebastian Moleski (CEO, Viderum) who introduced Viderum as an expert in Open Data working with high-profile partners in the field of data and health. He explained that their mission is to make the world's public data discoverable and accessible to everyone by providing data management solutions and tools that not only allow the strategic use of data, but also play a crucial role in analyzing, tracking and predicting public health trends.

Dave Henry, eHA’s Director of Global Health Informatics, gave a presentation on eHA's use of GIS technology for the VTS project, aimed at polio eradication, a disease for which immunization requires at least three vaccine doses within a child’s first year of life. GIS technology has enabled vaccination campaigns to locate, reach, and vaccinate children in hard-to-find settlements.

 Adam Butler, eHA Technical team lead in Berlin, gives a demonstration of eHA's data collection tool Gather

Adam Butler, eHA Technical team lead in Berlin, gives a demonstration of eHA's data collection tool Gather

After Dave’s overview of the effort to eradicate polio, its challenges, and the role of GIS technology in the initiative, Adam Butler (Technical Team Manager, Germany office, eHealth Africa) and Marko Bocevski (CTO, Viderum) got ready to demonstrate how geodata can be collected, shared and visualized using eHA’s and Viderum's tools.

Adam demonstrated eHA’s latest data collection tool Gather, built for secure, real-time, spatially-enabled data collection and map-plotting, to show how GPS-enabled devices can easily capture coordinates of health facilities, settlements, and roads.

 Marko Bocevski, Viderum's CTO, shows the functionalities of Viderum's visualization tool for CKAN

Marko Bocevski, Viderum's CTO, shows the functionalities of Viderum's visualization tool for CKAN

Following Adam’s demo, Marko demonstrated the technology Viderum developed to enable the visualization and analysis of collected data. The tool, which can be connected to Gather, facilitates data-driven decision making, project planning, and implementation.  

Following the demos, we had time to engage with the audience and answer few of their questions that animated discussions around topics related to data privacy and local community engagement.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the speakers and audience members whose participation and collaboration were essential for the success of the event.




International Translation Day Spotlight: AVADAR

By Adaeze Obiako

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.
— Nelson Mandela

This year, the United Nations is celebrating “International Translation Day” for the first time. The celebration is an opportunity to pay tribute to language professionals, whose work plays an important role in bringing nations together, facilitating dialogue, fostering understanding and cooperation, and contributing to the development and strengthening of world peace and security.

For eHealth Africa (eHA), translation has been instrumental to the success of several projects, particularly the Auto-Visual AFP Detection and Reporting (AVADAR) project.

When AVADAR commenced in 2016, we knew it was a worthwhile intervention towards the eradication of polio in Nigeria; however, we could not have anticipated just how much of a positive impact it would end up having on the Acute Flaccid Paralysis (AFP) surveillance system across Africa. Between 2016 and 2018, AVADAR grew from a small pilot in two states in Nigeria to a full-fledged project across 8 West and Central African nations. Several factors contributed to the success and scale of the project, one of which was the educational AFP video embedded in the AVADAR mobile app used to train community informants on proper detection (and subsequent reporting to health authorities) of AFP cases within their communities.

This is where language came in.

The project management team, made up of the World Health Organization (WHO), country Ministries of Health, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Novel-T, and eHA, knew early on that the key to ensuring accurate AFP detection and proper use of the AVADAR app for case reporting lay with developing a sense of connectedness and trust between all stakeholders (from project implementers to health workers to community informants) through the breakdown of language barriers.

Part of the pre-implementation phase in each country included research into what languages were spoken by indigenes using the AVADAR app and the AFP video, and the entire app was translated into each applicable language. Below is an example of the AFP video translated into Hausa, a local language commonly spoken in northern Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic.

In addition to the AFP video and app being translated into multiple languages, the training facilitators (who train informants on how to use the app) and field officers (who provide weekly phone troubleshooting support to informants) were all indigenes of the implementing regions and fluent in the local languages to ensure ease of communication and understanding for the AVADAR informants.

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As AVADAR continues operation across Africa, it is clear that we have the power of translation to thank for bridging the gap and allowing thousands of community members and health workers across different African nations to support the fight against polio. At this rate, it won't be too long before polio, like smallpox, is considered a public health issue of the "past".






Meet the Team - Adanna Alex

Meet Adanna Alex, Senior Coordinator with our Geographic Information Systems (GIS) team at our Kano Campus in Nigeria. She manages the Nigeria master geodatabase by ensuring that all updates and new data such as boundaries, settlement features, hamlets and other points of interest are integrated into the database and that all the microplan settlements in our database are validated.

This is very key for projects like the Vaccinator Tracking System, Polio Immunization Plus Days (IPD) tracking and the Geo-Referenced Infrastructure and Demographic Data for Development (GRID3) which rely heavily on geospatial data for their implementation.

Adanna has been with eHealth Africa for almost five years and has focused on building on her skills and knowledge everyday and helping to develop others. She trained the pilot team to manage the integration of Borno State data into the master geodatabase. In addition, she is currently responsible for supervising all interns with the GIS department.

Describing her work experience with eHA as fulfilling, Ada believes in doing every little task  diligently because it amounts to something big.

I joined eHA as a GIS analyst, editing and moving boundary points. Now, I manage the core geodatabase and support the VTS project by ensuring that the dashboard is up to date. I have grown over the years because eHealth Africa encourages personal development. In all this, I am most proud of my contribution to the eradication of the Poliovirus in Nigeria

Are you inspired by Adanna’s story? Click here to join our team!




eHealth Africa supports cholera Simulation as part of its Emergency Preparedness

By Umu McCarthy and Sahr Ngaujah

Sierra Leone is known for persistent heavy rains that sometimes lead to public health emergencies including the August 2017 mudslides and cholera outbreaks. As of June 2012, a total of 25,000 people were affected by cholera in Sierra Leone & Guinea, with 399 deaths in Sierra Leone. It was the country's largest outbreak of cholera since the disease was first reported in 1970 and the deadliest since the 1994–1995 cholera outbreak. This has been the largest outbreak in the West Africa region.

eHealth Africa (eHA) partnered with U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation and the World Health Organization (WHO), in a Cholera Simulation Exercise conducted in the Kambia District, in Northern Sierra Leone. A total of 36 healthcare workers and Health Management Teams  across the country, represented their various Districts in the simulation exercise. The key objectives of the simulation exercise were to:

  • promote awareness of cholera to emergency response staff

  • assess the effectiveness of the surveillance, laboratory and logistics capabilities of the selected districts to respond during outbreaks

  • discuss the roles and responsibilities of Public Health National Emergency Operations Center (PHNEOC) personnel during a potential outbreak activation in accordance with the district and national plans

  • test existing communication and coordination structures  implementation of emergency preparedness and response operations

Usually during the rainy season there is an increase in the trend of diarrhea cases. This puts the country on red alert to heighten its surveillance and preparedness plans. This simulation exercise was a deliberate and proactive step to addressing cholera crisis, should they come up
— Alusine Kamara

Alusine Kamara, the Public Health Operations Coordinator at the Sierra Leone National Emergency Operations Center, was key facilitator of the simulation exercise alongside  Dr. Claudette Amuzu, National Professional Officer, Emergency Preparedness Response, WHO.

CDC is funding eHA’s Emergency Management and Preparedness Project in Sierra Leone. The goal of this project is to enhance the capacity of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s ability to prepare, prevent and adequately respond to current and future outbreak of diseases including Ebola Virus Disease.

eHA’s role is to build the capacity of Ministry of Health and Sanitation personnel on key emergency management concepts in line with the Global Health Security Agenda. Scenarios, plenary sessions and presentations were used to test participants’ knowledge on cholera response. After the exercise, participants now have knowledge on how to control the spread of cholera during an outbreak.

Emergency Operation is new to Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation. Ebola crisis was our very first experience and we are still using the lessons learnt to inform future emergencies . The simulation exercise could not have come at a better time. Partners were able to identify relevant players at the District levels. This makes it easier for response teams during an emergency. If there is a cholera emergency now, I am better placed to mobilize both human and logistical resources to respond to it.
— Sahr Gbandeh, Emergency Operations Center Focal Person for Western Area Urban

The simulation exercise, if properly implemented, goes to also benefit thousands of Sierra Leoneans during an outbreak of cholera.






Celebrating the International Day of Charity

The UN International Day of Charity is celebrated every September 5, and this year is focused on the Sustainable Development Goals. While the projects that eHA implements provide data-driven approaches towards the goals of “Good Health & Well-Being” and “Zero Hunger”, we also recognize the central role of volunteering and philanthropy in creating global change.

This is a belief shared and supported by eHA and demonstrated by a team that frequently engages in various charitable outreach projects to support the communities that we live and work in.

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This year on the International Day of Charity, we would like to thank those who have contributed to our civic engagement and corporate social responsibility projects, including eHA staff and community members that participated in our donation drives. Your generous volunteering of time, as well as your donations of clothing and food items were vital to our charity projects at a retirement home in Freetown, Sierra Leone and a children’s home in Kano, Nigeria.

We also want to thank the almost 50 members of eHA staff, including our Executive Director Evelyn Castle, who participated in the blood drive organized at at our Kano campus on World Blood Donor day.

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At eHealth Africa, we are passionate about impacting lives and investing in the places that we call home. This International Day of Charity, we encourage everyone to do the same.

eHealth Africa supports training for Hepatitis B community-based Serosurvey

eHealth Africa (eHA) and Statistics Sierra Leone are implementing the Hep B Community-based Serosurvey project funded by U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC). Technical leadership for the survey is being provided by CDC and Dr. Dennis Marke, Program Manager for the Government of Sierra Leone’s Child Health Program. The purpose of the survey is to

  • assess the impact of the current childhood Hepatitis B immunization program in Sierra Leone on the prevalence of chronic hepatitis B infections among children
  • evaluate the need for the Hepatitis B- birth dose in Sierra Leone by determining the burden of chronic hepatitis B virus among mother/child pairs.

In preparation for the survey eHA  supported the training of phlebotomists and surveyors for data and sample collection in the field.

  Practical session on processing and tracking of venous blood specimen

Practical session on processing and tracking of venous blood specimen

Strong human resource capacity is crucial to manage a household survey that consists of a detailed questionnaire and a rapid diagnostic test administered to the participant in their home. eHA and CDC trained a team of 50 people (13 surveyors, 13 team supervisors and 3 district coordinators and 20 phlebotomists) from Statistics Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. The training took place at Sierra Leone’s Public Health National  Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Freetown, from 20th - 25th August 2018.

The 5-day training consisted of 3 full classroom days and a 2 days of field work. The following topics were covered:  

  • Overview and relevance of the Hepatitis B Serosurvey
  • Household identification procedure for enrollment
  • Counseling families about Hepatitis B results
  • Conducting Hepatitis B rapid diagnostic test
  • Processing and tracking of venous blood specimens
I have never worked in a survey field. However, this training did not only add to my knowledge about Hepatitis B, it also gave me the opportunity to go out in the field during the training and conduct a phlebotomy exercise on participants.
— Sahr Joseph, Phlebotomist


Key beneficiaries of the project are Sierra Leone’s Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI), Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), mothers and children in Sierra Leone and the wider public. Participants testified to the value of the training to facilitate learning valuable information needed for effectively administering the questionnaire and conducting rapid diagnostic tests in the field.

  Practical sessions with phlebotomists on the use of the mobile refrigerator to store blood samples

Practical sessions with phlebotomists on the use of the mobile refrigerator to store blood samples

The training was intense. However, I was able to master the purpose of the survey, became conversant with the questions and how to determine the eligibility of participants.
— Tamba Fatorma, Surveyor

eHA provided the phones and internet data for the survey and installed the open data kit (ODK) app (which is used for data collection in the field), the age= app for age calculation, and the  ODK dashboard. eHA’s provision of the android phones for the survey discourages potentials errors via paper-based methods by presenting an automated approach to health data collection. With ODK, data collection will be done easily and survey activities monitored in near real time.

 

Next Steps

The Western Area Urban, Bo and Bombali districts have been identified as target areas for the  survey. After this training, eHA, CDC, Statistics Sierra Leone and the MOHS (including those trained)  will Implement the serosurvey through June 2019, at 14, 200 households in the areas identified. The survey will include infants in the following age categories: 4–24 months; 5-9 year olds and their mothers to evaluate the risk of mother to child transmission (MTCT) of Hepatitis B. Evidence from the survey will be presented to the Sierra Leonean government to inform decision makers on whether to introduce administration of the Hepatitis B vaccine at birth.

Preventing childhood diseases through Vaccine Direct Delivery

By Adamu Lawan

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The Challenge
In Northern Nigeria, vaccines are often unavailable at health facilities due to irregular deliveries. There are no systems in place to track inventory and movement of commodities between facilities and state cold stores. This has led to substantial stock outs of vaccines at last- mile health facilities and consequently, the inability of children under the age of one to access routine immunization services.

eHealth Africa’s solution
In 2013, eHealth Africa developed a logistics platform, LoMIS, to transport vaccines and dry goods from the state cold store to health facilities at the ward level that are equipped with cold chain storage facilities. The project was launched in Kano in 2014 and in Bauchi and Sokoto in 2015.
Following its success in the pilot LGAs of Bauchi State this year, the implementation of Vaccine Direct Delivery was scaled up to include an additional 148 health facilities in the northern clusters of Bauchi State.

The Impact

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FIND Visits Kano State

During the month of August, eHealth Systems Africa in collaboration with THINKMD, FIND and Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB) implemented the second phase of the pilot study of the eHealth platform MEDSINC. In the first phase of the pilot, Community Health Workers (CHWs) in 15 health facilities across Kano state had been trained to use the platform and carry out physician like clinical assessments on ill children between the age of 2 months and 5 years of age. At the completion of their training the CHWs received a training certificate during a conferment ceremony. Taking from the success of the first phase, a new version of MEDSINC was developed and combined with malaria rapid diagnostic tests to guide CHWs through clinical assessment, malaria diagnosis and management. This phase of the pilot was implemented in 5 health facilities across five metropolitan Local Government Areas.

Last week, FIND representative, Dr. Karell Pellé, visited eHealth Systems Africa and met with the Executive Secretary of Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB), Dr. Nasir Mahmoud, to discuss ongoing plans for scaling up the use of mHealth tools to improve clinical diagnosis of childhood illnesses. She also visited some of the pilot health facilities in Kano State to interact with the CHWs and observe first-hand how quality of care and health delivery had been improved in those facilities.

Meet the Team - Friday Daniel

Friday Daniel

Friday Daniel is Project Field Operations Coordinator in our Nigeria office.  He joined eHealth Africa over four years ago as a Field Officer on the Vaccinator Tracking System (VTS) project. He helped to improve vaccination coverage as well as to reach frequently missed settlements in states with high risk of Polio and low immunization coverage rates.  VTS provides immunization coordination teams at national, state and local government levels with a deeper understanding and insight into what exactly takes place at the wards, communities and settlements during the house to house immunization campaigns.
Less than a year after he joined eHA, he became a field operations coordinator and worked across five projects including Auto-Visual AFP Detection and Reporting (AVADAR), Lake Chad Mapping, Field Tracking System and the Polio Vaccination Monitoring and Accountability System. One of his greatest achievements is his pivotal role in identifying unknown settlements under the Vaccinator Tracking System project. He researched and introduced an existing tool to the Field Operations Team which helped to increase the tracking coverage from 68% to 89%.

Friday works closely with partners and stakeholders to ensure that project objectives are met and that governments are provided with useful data that can aid decision- making and planning in line with eHA’s strategy. He also manages and supervises the activities of the field operations personnel to ensure that project activities are implemented efficiently.

I have gained so many new skills since joining eHealth Africa. I love working at eHA because it gives me the opportunity to solve problems and try new things. Being able to pilot several projects to completion and see able to its impact in the communities of operation, is an awesome experience!
— Friday Daniel

Would you like to be a part of our team? Click here to find out more

World Humanitarian Day Spotlight: WFP Warehouses and Borno Interventions

By Emerald Awa- Agwu

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World Humanitarian Day is held on August 19 every year to draw attention to the millions of civilians whose lives have been disrupted by armed conflict and to recognize those who work to bring them aid and relief. According to statistics from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), over 2 million people have been internally displaced by the insurgency in Northeast Nigeria. The insecurity in this region has increased the vulnerability  to diseases and hunger in many communities as they are unable to access food and health services. This World Humanitarian Day, we will be highlighting how eHealth Africa (eHA) programs support the humanitarian effort in Northeast Nigeria.

  Teams using geo-spatial data to plan immunization activities

Teams using geo-spatial data to plan immunization activities

In 2016, after almost two years without a reported case of wild poliovirus in Nigeria, four cases were isolated in Borno state. In response to this, eHA partnered with the Federal Government of Nigeria and other organizations including  the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Solina Health to extend the reach of polio immunization campaigns to hard-to-reach areas in Borno and Yobe states. Through the Reaching Every Settlement (RES) and  Reaching Inaccessible Children (RIC) projects, state immunization teams have reached 5,598 settlements in security challenged wards with the help of the geo-spatial data provided by eHA’s GIS & Data Analytics teams.

We also provide mobile based technology that enables relevant state governments’ teams  to track reached settlements by providing geo-evidence of visits by vaccination teams. Our teams continue to  gather geo spatial data on constantly changing landmarks and settlements, which helps the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA)  plan both routine immunization and polio specific vaccination campaigns targeted at hard-to-reach communities. This equips the government with accurate, real-time coverage data which helps with planning and decision making.

  Food stored in eHA operated warehouse in Borno, Nigeria

Food stored in eHA operated warehouse in Borno, Nigeria

eHA also partners with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Logistics Sector Nigeria to coordinate the storage and distribution of food aid to internally displaced people in the North East. In the first half of 2018, eHA has handled over 330,000 metric tons of food for about 1.2 million people affected by the conflict in the Northeast.

The Logistics Sector Nigeria offers warehousing to humanitarian organizations working in Northeast Nigeria in order to support their operations processes. eHA manages the Logistics Sector warehouse in Ngala, Borno State and has commenced the construction of an additional warehouse in Rann, Borno State.

To learn more about our humanitarian projects and our work in other parts of Nigeria and Africa, please read our 2017 Annual Impact Report

Meet the Team - Foday Sesay

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Meet Foday Sesay, the Lead Driver in our Sierra Leone office. He joined the eHealth Africa (eHA) team over 3 years ago as a driver and now manages our in country fleet team, managing both the team of 13 drivers and the entire fleet of vehicles. 
The fleet team is an integral part of our program operations, by providing ground transportation support to all of our programs and projects. They ensure that people and resources reach their destinations safely and on time. Foday is responsible for managing all the moving pieces to make sure all of this happens smoothly. He ensures that every vehicle is in working condition and that the drivers are well equipped with the right tools and training.

I started with eHA as a driver. Four months down the line, I was promoted to Lead Driver. I am proud about the fact that I help drivers adhere to organizational policies. Since I joined the eHA Fleet as a Lead Driver, fuel consumption has reduced.
— Foday Sesay

Foday has focused on processes and procedures to be more successful in his role as lead driver. He plans regular training sessions for the fleet team and this has led to better driving records; there have been no traffic offenses nor have there been any major accidents with eHA vehicles since 2017.  Also, under Foday's leadership, the fleet team has also become more efficient with resource management, the best example of this is continuous decrease of the the fuel consumption rate since 2016.

Foday has made measurable and visible impact since he joined the eHA team and we are happy to have Foday with us, he keeps us moving!

Click here to learn more about joining the eHA team.

 

Field Tracking System - transparency and efficiency redefined

Back in 2016, the Field Tracking System (FTS) was borne out of a need to provide a means for tracking vaccinators in Cameroon for the World Health Organization (WHO). The first system was developed as a collaborative effort between eHA and WHO to address the needs for polio vaccination tracking in Cameroon.
The question WHO Cameroon wanted to answer was "How do we know where the vaccinators have visited on a daily basis and how do we make adjustments to their plans while the are still in the field?"
The challenge was that vaccination teams were in extremely remote and unreachable villages for several days and they only had one chance to vaccinate children during campaigns. Any locations missed had to be addressed during the campaign.
The solution eHA and WHO Cameroon came up with was to use low-end smartphones to capture geo-coordinate information called "tracks" every 90 seconds to infer that locations where vaccinators stayed in for about 2 minutes, a vaccination occured. We deployed the offline system in Cameroon, powered by our robust database that contains attributes and constraints that could easily be modified and adjusted based on factors that affect where vaccinators have reached and the time spent there. Such factors include size of the house, village or community, security situation, road network, etc.
The output was an offline dashboard showing communities and households that were visited, partially visited, not visited, that the field teams used on a daily basis to assess their performance and readjust the next day’s plan during the campaign. This was great! And then users wanted more.

I am frankly delighted that we have introduced etracking. etracking has enabled us to know the serious and hardworking vaccinators and the unserious ones
— Head of Supervisors - Pagui, Cameroon January 2017

 

FTS is currently adopted in 3 African countries (Nigeria, Cameroon & Chad) for more generic tracking purposes of vaccinator and supervisory teams, sales teams, service administrators, data collectors. Some use cases worthy of note are:

 

  • User’s ability to define and modify campaigns by defining dates, with phones automatically sending tracks to a remote server and coverage automatically calculated. With the online and offline dashboard access, users can download reports and generate insights across multiple campaigns.
  • We work with our users to plan field activities on a daily basis based on predefined communities and attributes across static and dynamic administrative levels in any area.
  • Additionally, when our users need to collect sources of data while they are in the field, we can help them integrate the data with the FTS to provide more insights into the field work beyond coverage information. Case in point - WHO Cameroon & WHO Chad were able to corroborate coverage information from vaccinators with additional supervisory data that validated vaccination efforts by capturing actual number of children vaccinated using Open Data Kit (ODK) forms as an input. This means that coverage expectations of  "visited" was complemented by the actual number of children vaccinated captured by ODK forms. This then helped them to further to investigate anomalies.
With the FTS, now we are 100% certain that we have reached everywhere in the islands
— Sam Okiror (Head, Lake Chad Task Team), June 2018

 

We are now working with our users to build a generic tracking and monitoring system that can be triggered by other inputs besides  geo-coordinates. Consider a system that reports coverage based on predefined user criteria and triggered by user-defined events or change in status. Ultimately, FTS will receive input from various sources both offline and online. We are excited about the possibilities with FTS and building collaboratively with our users to meet their specific demands.

Come one, Come Tech Enthusiasts!

By Emmanuel Monehin

We, at eHealth Africa are passionate about growth and learning. Not only do we push ourselves to grow and learn, we actively share knowledge with partners and interested individuals with the aim of inspiring positive change.

Last weekend at our Kano campus, eHealth Africa in collaboration with EnovateLab hosted a tech meetup, an initiative aimed at encouraging the development of local tech champions and entrepreneurs, especially in the areas of health delivery, nutrition and food security systems and, social impact in Kano State, Nigeria.

Click through the slideshow to find out what happened at the meetup.

Aether and Gather - Open Source Release

By Dave Henry & Benedetta Ludovisi

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Today is a very special day for eHA and the Aether and Gather development teams. Today these two projects are finally being released as open source software!

Aether, the software development platform for data exchange, curation and publication, is available to anyone to be evaluated and used to jump-start the creation of data-driven ehealth solutions.

Gather, the Aether-based solution for large scale data collection is also available, providing an end-to-end pipeline for streaming Open Data Kit survey responses to the CKAN Open Data Portal and other applications.

Read more about the reasons we created these two projects in our interview with the Aether team, and get more information on the Aether and Gather microsites.

If you are eager to get your hands on the software, you can try it yourself by following the step-by-step Gather “getting started” guide.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on our forums, and to seeing the amazing things that you do!!

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MEDSINC Pilot Study Closeout meeting and Certificate Conferment Ceremony

eHealth Africa, THINKMD and Kano State Primary Health Care Management Board (KSPHCMB) collaborated to implement a digital platform called MEDSINC among Community Health Workers (CHWs) in 5 metropolitan Local Government Areas (LGAs). Covering 15 Health facilities, MEDSINC supports the management of illnesses under the Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses (IMCI) and empowered CHWs with skills to carry out physician-like clinical assessments on sick children within 2 months – 5 yrs of age. The close out meeting which held July 19, 2018 was presided over by the Executive Secretary, KSPHCMB, Dr. Nasir Mahmoud and with the support of Juliet Odogwu, Megan McLaughlin and Dr. Aisha Giwa, he presented certificates of completion to the CHWs. The ceremony consolidated our collaborative efforts in empowering CHWs with training and on-the-job support to improve the quality of care provided at primary health care level in the state. 

 Participants with their certificate

Participants with their certificate

The pilot study was completed in 2 months and involved a 6-weeks implementation period (June 4 – July 13) and 3 stages of data collection – Pre, Mid and Post-Implementation IMCI observational data collection. Over the implementation period, CHWs used the platform to assess children in the health facilities. A total of 2,239 children were assessed using MEDSINC and a 41% increase in the number of IMCI observational data points collected at baseline (pre-implementation) was observed after mid-implementation data collection. This indicated an increase in the quality of assessments provided by the CHWs using MEDSINC. The feedback from the CHWs throughout the implementation period was positive and contributed to the ongoing improvements on the MEDSINC platform.