June 19, 2024

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Health management tool strengthening health system – PAHO/WHO

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St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda, 12 February 2024 (PAHO) – Antigua and Barbuda are well on their way to detecting possible disease outbreaks, better positioning the nation to plan for and manage health issues.

This advancement is the result of a partnership between the Epidemiology & Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which resulted in the implementation of a health management information system known as DHIS2 (District Health Information System).

Antigua and Barbuda are receiving cutting edge support as DHIS2 is the world’s largest health management information system platform. It is currently being used by about 80 low-income and middle-income countries.

The Ministry began work on this project in 2022. Back then, an evaluation of health centres was conducted to determine the institution and capacity building requirements. In February last year, a pilot project was launched using test installation. PAHO provided training for staff and data entry began. Based on the outcome, plans were put in place for the “go live” installation.

In December 2023, the Ministry of Health went live with Syndromic Surveillance using DHIS2. Syndromic Surveillance is the period of observation of early symptoms before confirmation of a particular disease.

This year, January 25th and February 2nd, meetings were hosted for Ministry of Health personnel including senior technicians and a PAHO team, to view the functioning of the DHIS2 system. The progress of the system was examined and there was a discussion of any challenges that needed to be addressed.

This is an advancement in the Prime Minister’s priority for fully digitizing the public service by 2030. A digital readiness assessment was carried out in 2023 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), PAHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in collaboration with the Antiguan government which is paving the way for the digital transformation agenda.

PAHO/WHO Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Countries, Dr. Amalia Del Riego, described the DHIS2 as an excellent tool to allow for the provision of optimum health care.

“Citizens will benefit from improved primary health care as medical personnel will be able to respond to disease outbreaks in a timely fashion. The DHIS2 system has other benefits besides the primary benefit of detection of outbreaks. The Epidemiology Unit would be able to survey data in real time, as well as integrate with other software systems for data gathering and submit data more easily. Data can also be collected offline if there is internet disruption and then sent once internet connectivity has been restored.”

All public health clinics will receive training to allow for full implementation of the DHIS2 system and private health facilities will also benefit. There are also plans to implement modules for Cervical Cancer, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI), Cancer Registry, Psychiatric data and HEARTS (NCD).

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