Rwanda Deploys Technology to Detect Disease Outbreak


A new state of the art electronic integrated disease surveillance and response (eIDSR) system, built in Rwanda, will by April be rolled out to all district hospitals and health centres in the country.

The technology can be used to report potential outbreaks of diseases like cholera, Ebola, malaria and others as well as help health workers contain the spread of disease.The technology was built by Rwandan specialists working under the direction of Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

So far the system has been installed in 37 district hospitals and by the end of April it will have been established in the remaining six district hospitals, according to Dr Kizito Kayumba, the Tracnet Director of Voxiva, the company behind the technology.

Voxiva is a global provider of practical information solutions to strengthen health care systems, enhance safety and improve government service delivery.

Dr Kizito said this technology will help ensure timely delivery of information to all health facilities, especially if there is a likely outbreak of diseases.

The users can collect timely information from the field via web and mobile phones which is then electronically submitted and transmitted to the users at all health facilities at the same time.

"This system also helps to contain and investigate potential outbreaks detected automatically in the electronic system. More than 1,000 health officials and staff have been trained to use the new technology," he stated.

He said Rwanda is now sharing the technology with other East African Community member states.

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The Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary Healthcare, Dr Anita Asimwe, said that health decisions and actions should be based on timely and accurate information, adding that this system will help achieve that objective.

"As far as I am aware, eIDSR is unique technology which has improved timeliness and completeness of reporting and helped officials detect outbreaks rapidly, investigate them and mount a quick response within the country and across our borders," she said at a meeting in Kigali yesterday.

Move from paper based technology

According to Dr. Thierry Nyatanyi, Director of Epidemics and Infectious Diseases Division in RBC, Rwanda's disease surveillance system was paper-based and reports of epidemic prone diseases were transmitted on paper from the health centers to district hospitals and then to national level until November 2011 when this high tech system was established.

"The paper based disease surveillance system reporting was causing late and incomplete reporting, difficulty in identifying outbreaks rapidly and challenges getting current and complete information to respond to outbreaks and to limit their spread and fatality. The new electronic system has turned this situation around," he said.

Dr Nyatanyi added that so far the system has been found to be very effective in detecting and preventing epidemics.