The following article by UNFPA details Dimagi’s work against Ebola. Through the project, which is being run in partnership with Columbia University’s Earth Institute, Tableau, and Ericsson. The article is also available in French.
Conakry, Guinea. “CommCare” technology has been chosen to support the implementation of the Government Response Plan against the Ebola Virus Disease in order to obtain timely and reliable information as well as facilitate contact tracing. This innovative approach is the result of a combined effort between the Earth Institute at Columbia University (USA), UNFPA and the Monitoring Cell of the National Coordination against the Ebola virus.
The “CommCare” integration in contact tracing by community workers on the ground has been made possible through sustained advocacy by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) towards the Guinean Government, other UN agencies and the actors involved in the fight against Ebola in Guinea.
Since November 2014, in collaboration with the Columbia University, UNFPA office in Guinea has been organising training sessions for community workers and supervisors throughout the national territory.
The Fund, which provides financial and technical support for the fight against Ebola, designed the training guide and made a technician available to the National Coordination of the fight against Ebola virus in order to configure the mobile phones and monitor the proper functioning of the new application.
“CommCare” is based on the standard form used by the National Coordination. It also includes operational procedures for the proper course of action and decision-making during contact tracing.
In this regard, the application is used to locate the contacts and to transfer, in real time, the data collected by the community workers in charge of the monitoring to a server hosted by the Monitoring Cell.
Thanks to the system, the collection and management of data is reliable. It helps facilitate contact tracing and shorten the information processing time.
Up to this date, one hundred fifty-eight (158) Community workers use these phones to retrieve the data collected in the field in Conakry, Coyah and Dubreka. Other prefectures affected by the Ebola virus will also benefit from the innovative technology.
“Substantial time saving with CommCare”
“Previously, contact tracing was done with data sheets. We would go from house to house with writing material. Once the information was collected, we would give the sheets to the supervisors for typing and transferring to the coordination. This process used to take two to three days. Sometimes, we would go out of stock of sheets. When this happened we recorded the information on other sheets we proposed ourselves and it was through these documents that we would transfer the information to our supervisors,” said Alpha Sow Midiaou, young community worker covering Sonfonia, a district of Conakry.
“A phone with CommCare provides considerable time saving. I am currently tracing 18 contacts and I could save them easily with the application. Using phones is more convenient for us as young people,” he added.
As of December 24, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 2,284 cases of Ebola in Guinea with 1, 344 deaths.
In humanitarian emergency and during health crises, UNFPA supports research and data collection in order to provide a basis for reliable information in real time and make decision making easier.