By Elizabeth Shelley
Since the height of the West African Ebola virus outbreak, eHealth Africa (eHA) has been working with the Liberian Ministry of Health (MOH) to rigorously improve nationwide electronic disease reporting systems, laboratory and diagnostic systems, and emergency management operations.
eHA established Emergency Operations Centers (EOCs) in each of Liberia’s 15 counties and supported specimen sampling and storage at 5 priority laboratories. Today, eHA is poised to launch our new electronic Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (eIDSR) app on a national level. With each of these advancements, eHA recognizes the need to ensure the development of a local workforce to maintain these systems beyond the end of eHA’s involvement. As our teams continue to create innovative technological solutions to some of Liberia’s most pressing public health challenges, we are simultaneously providing experts to deliver training workshops for the continued management of these systems, and on ways to modify them to respond to a changing environment.
Recently, in partnership with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eHA delivered a workshop to MOH staff members in all counties, Surveillance Officers, and other National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL) staff on Threats and Hazard Identification and Risks Assessment (THIRA). In this workshop, participants learned to more effectively detect, investigate, and respond to potential public health emergencies.
eHA and the CDC recently delivered training workshops to MOH employees on risk communication and additional workshops technical skills required to manage software solutions and ICT infrastructure. Last year, eHA and the CDC brought representatives from the Linux Association to Liberia to conduct Africa’s first ever Linux Association Administrator Certification program. The workshop, conducted at eHA’s central office in Monrovia, resulted in ten professionals becoming fully qualified Linux System Administrators.
As the development of our eIDSR Offline Tracker application progresses, eHA is simultaneously planning workshops to train MOH employees, District Surveillance Officers (DSOs), and additional Healthcare Workers (HCWs) on using the software. eHA recognizes the importance of developing local capacity to maintain the software and associated databases, to make modifications as required, and resolve bugs as they occur. This capacity strengthening will prove crucial for sustaining these projects.