IHVN Launches Tool To Enhance Nigeria’s Disease Surveillance, Response  

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The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.
The director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa.

The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) through the Strengthening Global Health Security Agenda in Nigeria Project (SECURE-Nigeria) has launched a data analytic visualization tool (DAVT) to help the country to get the right data to the right people at the right time, to inform decisions and deploy a more effective public health response. 

Speaking at a celebratory launch today (September 1, 2022) in Abuja, the director-general, Nigeria Centre for Disease and Prevention Control (NCDC), Dr Ifedayo Adetifa said that the DAVT system aims to support surveillance and response at the NCDC and state public health emergency operation centres (PHEOCs).  

He noted that the primary emphasis of the data analytics and display tool is to institutionalise data quality management, data demand and use processes. 

The NCDC boss said that DAVT would also serve as a demand-creator for case-based data being churned out via the Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System (SORMAS) and mobile strengthening emergency response system (mSERE). 

“The development of this analytical dashboard builds on the gains of Nigeria’s well-established Integrated Disease Surveillance and Response (IDS) programme for early warning and disease management that has led to the deployment of the SORMAS for reporting new cases of epidemic-prone diseases, detection of outbreaks and outbreak management; the development and use of mSERS and for aggregate epidemic-prone disease reporting,” he said. 

He said that the developed analytical dashboard pulls data from these surveillance reporting platforms for stakeholder visualisation, analysis and decision-making.  

“It promotes and advances the process improvement activities on data quality management. 

“Although currently pulling data from both SOMAS and mSERS, the dashboard is designed with the capacity to integrate with other surveillance reporting platforms that may be available in the future,” he said. 

He disclosed that the dashboard currently displays analytics for three prioritised diseases: COVID-19, cerebrospinal meningitis and Lassa fever from SOMAS and three priority diseases typhoid fever, malaria and diarrhoea with dehydration from the mSERS database, which will expand to all diseases by 2023.

Adetifa said that this is an electronic case management software used to integrate epidemiological and laboratory data during routine response and outbreak management. 

He added that the tool would enhance the ability of the country to convert surveillance data to information, to improve immediate actions and decision-making. 

“This is critical in the effort to strengthen the sensitivity of a strong surveillance system,” he said. 

Earlier, the managing director, IHVN, Dr. Charles Mensah disclosed that IHVN received funding from US-CDC DGHP in 2020 to support the Nigerian government’s effort at addressing the global health security agenda. 

“This project, Strengthening Global Health Security Agenda in Nigeria (Secure-Nigeria), builds on the gains by IHVN, as a prime supporter of building the capacity of the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) at the NCDC and has supported the public health response over the last 17 years. 

“IHVN key technical partner under SECURE-Nigeria also brings incredible experience through its Strengthening Epidemic Response Systems (SERS) project,” Mensah said. 

According to him, through the component one funding of the SECURE-Nigeria project, IHVN is supporting NCDC to develop and deploy a unified data analytical dashboard that pulls surveillance data from multiple platforms for streamlined decision-making at both the NCDC and supported states.  

“Additional support includes the establishment of a surveillance data quality management programme to support routine quality improvement for surveillance data, as well as drive data for action.” 

He said that IHVN remains a centre of excellence in providing quality health service implementation, capacity-building and research and ensuring equitable access to individuals and communities. 

In his remarks, the Nigeria country director, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB), Dr. Sylvia Adebajo said the data can be used to evaluate programme impact, determine appropriate public health interventions, monitor progress, determine populations to target for an intervention, to determine barriers to care and to influence public policy. 

“People want evidence to base their decisions on and it’s the same in public health, which is also a business. It just happens to be the business of people. But we make better decisions when we have data to back them.

“Of course, dealing with such massive amounts of information can be challenging across any industry. 

“But in the public health sector, the benefits are numerous enough to make the use of public health data in shaping policy and better understanding the epidemiology behind diseases and other health-related matters worthwhile,” she said. 

Adebajo said that the health sector would continue to expand and draw attention from those who want to do work that matters and make a difference in the lives of others.

“Big data is a big step in this process and, in public health, the more people there are to help, the better,” she said.  

In her welcome address, the director of surveillance and epidemiology, NCDC, Mrs. Elsie Ilori said that DAVT would create a dashboard very early so that every­one can see where the country is with its disease progression and how it would impact their communities and themselves. 

Racheal Abujah
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