Geodata

eHealth Africa partners with the Global Healthsites Mapping Project

eHealth Africa is collaborating with The Global Healthsites Mapping project (Healthsites), in their efforts to build a global commons of health facility data using OpenStreetMap, a collaborative mapping initiative. The Healthsites project aims to improve outcomes in the medical and humanitarian sectors by establishing an accessible global baseline of health facility data. Taking an open data approach, Healthsites invites organizations to share health facility data and collaborate.

From routine reporting to emergency services, health facility data drives how national health ministries, international institutions, and private companies operate in a highly functioning health system.  While accuracy is vital for effective service delivery  health facility lists are frequently inaccurate, outdated, duplicated, incomplete, and not made available in open and accessible methods.

Definition of the scope, service provision capacities, laboratory capacities, and optimal catchment populations for emergency hospital care should be a priority.
— Access to emergency hospital care provided by the public sector in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015: a geocoded inventory and spatial analysis - The Lancet Global Health

One of the main barriers to easily accessible and accurate health facility data is a lack of interoperability between different information management systems, which is why working with open data structures and in partnership with different organizations is important. Healthsites’ approach builds on open source standards and technologies implemented by the Open Health Information Exchange Community (OpenHIE). This data sharing strengthens the ability of health authorities in underserved areas to more easily create and update accurate health facility registries.

Data collectors in rural Northern Nigeria

Data collectors in rural Northern Nigeria

Creating a Global Health Facility Dataset

The project was launched on  March 3, 2016, at the Global Partnership for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation in response the Ebola outbreak in West Africa with support from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Kartoza.

By providing relevant data on health facilities around the globe we can strengthen health systems, improve emergency care, and save lives. For underserved areas, it has been estimated that improving emergency care can lead to a 45% reduction in mortality rates and a 36% reduction in disability.
— Access to emergency hospital care provided by the public sector in sub-Saharan Africa in 2015: a geocoded inventory and spatial analysis - The Lancet Global Health

Creating and maintaining a global health facility dataset requires collaboration--current project partners include the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF), The Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), the International Hospital Federation, and CartONG. To make the project successful worldwide, Healthsites is inviting organizations to support their work in areas including Senegal and the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Digital Square Global Goods program.


The primary use cases include:

Epidemic Preparedness:
Accurate healthcare facility data is vital to respond to outbreaks, prepare for an influx of cases, and to make decisions regarding resource allocation.

Support for disaster response:
Accurate and up-to-date data provides the basic data that helps drive activities like service availability planning, monitoring and evaluation, and disaster risk preparedness.

Support for immunization programs:
Information on the location of health care providers is important for immunization planning on the national scale.

Maternity care:
Open and accurate health care facility data is a valuable resource for pregnant women looking for support when planning a birth.

eHealth Africa and Healthsites

eHA’s technology is key to enabling Healthsites’ vision of a health facility global commons. Gather, eHA’s human-mediated data collection and curation application will be used to crowdsource facility information and widen the scope of the project.  Healthsites will also utilize eHA’s Aether platform to facilitate interoperability and allow for a large-scale exchange of data between numerous organizations.

eHA’s extensive experience in West Africa working with health facility data collection and presentation will facilitate the advocacy of open data and data sharing with the Global Healthsites Mapping Project within the region.

The eHA team, setting out on another data collection campaign. Mobile phones are used to capture geospatial data from the field.

The eHA team, setting out on another data collection campaign. Mobile phones are used to capture geospatial data from the field.

The data life cycle starts with crowdsourcing facility data. Collected information is then sent into Healthsites platform where the data goes through a quality check and enrichment processes to make sure that the information is updated and relevant. Once validated, Aether allows the data to be shared in CKAN, OSM, HDX and later on with OpenHIE, making sure the open data community can contribute to this ambitious project as well. The idea is to foster a  "data collaborative" approach, which continuously involves more people that can contribute and benefit from information sharing.

 

The Data Cycle

 
HealthsitesandeHADataCycle

By enhancing the quality and accessibility of health facility data, this project can have an impressive impact on multiple sectors. Not only can the database help save lives in emergency response situations by facilitating access to emergency care, but also it can improve health outcomes in a wide variety of ways such as strengthening diseases surveillance systems or facilitating medical supply planning and the effectiveness of vaccination campaigns.

Validated open health facility data is a supporting framework for social entrepreneurs

Validated open health facility data is a supporting framework for social entrepreneurs

The public sector is not the only beneficiary; entrepreneurs in the private sector also benefit from access to this information. Healthsites provides a web API that allows applications and web services to be created or enhanced to utilize accurate health facility information.  This enables use cases that go beyond simply locating health facilities and medical services. Expanding business opportunities and enabling efficient use of available resources increases the size of the community who will help collect and maintain the data.

Healthsites is improving health capacity data in West Africa and supporting the development of data collaboratives. This is a global project that needs partners to enhance its impact. Get in touch and help us build a global commons of baseline health facility data with OpenStreetMap here.










"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.