The public health disease surveillance in Africa, largely, relies on paper-based systems that are inefficient in capturing disease events that occur in distant rural areas where the majority of Africans live.
Jacqueline Uriyo, the Acting Regional Medical Officer, made the remarks here when speaking at the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance’s first EpiHack in Africa, organized in partnership with the East African Integrated Disease Surveillance Network (EAIDSNet) of the East Africa Community.
In the EpiHack, Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance, (SACIDS) is connecting Organizations for Regional Disease Surveillance (CORDS) an international NGO based in Lyon France, Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD) of Stanford, California and the Skoll Global Threats fund of San Francisco, California.
EpiHack connects leading computer technologists/programmers and public and animal health experts to join intensive day events to create, adapt and fine-tune digital tools for national and regional disease surveillance.
EpiHack brings the crucial cross-sector, borderless issue of disease detection to Southern and East African Regions.
Uriyo said: “Such systems, usually fail to facilitate the health systems to effectively identify, prevent and respond to both endemic and periodic impact of infectious diseases.”
“This is evidenced by the long-time taken between occurrence of index cases and response to epidemic diseases. For instance, the past Ebola hemorrhagic fever outbreaks were responded to after four to five months since occurrence of an index case.”
She said the situation should be reversed through adoption and deployment of digital solutions. “We therefore commend different efforts and initiatives taken by the national, regional and international institutions in seeking for improving early disease detection and response by digital solutions.”
Uriyo commended the efforts by the Southern African Centre for Infectious Disease Surveillance (SACIDS) and the East African Integrated Disease Surveillance Network (EAIDSNet) in collaboration with the Connecting Organizations for Regional Disease Surveillance Network (CORDS) and the Innovative Support to Emergencies Diseases and Disasters (InSTEDD) for spearheading the agenda.
“I also recognize the Skoll Global Threats Fund for constant support of Epihack events I am told the Epihack Tanzania is the fourth in a series (and first in Africa) after previous three events being held in South East Asia in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos,” he said.
SACIDS official Yunus Karsan said the five-day meeting is set produce important digital tools and deliberations geared towards promoting early detection and response to the deadly diseases as well as neglected tropical conditions prevalent on our African continent.
SACIDS is a OneHealth consortium of Southern African academic and research institutions involved with infectious diseases of humans and animals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN