Juba, 6 June 2018 – The World Health Organization (WHO) in partnership with the Ministry of Health, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), eHealth Africa and Novel-T has rolled out a mobile application based surveillance system called Auto- Visual AFP Detection and Reporting (AVADAR) for timely reporting and investigation of AFP cases and improve the sensitivity of AFP surveillance in South Sudan.
AFP surveillance is vital to detect circulating wild or vaccine derived polio virus and provide data for developing effective prevention and control strategies in a timely manner. . Hence, the roll out of AVADAR system is focused to strengthen AFP surveillance in areas with perceived gaps, challenges or risk of missing AFP cases.
“One of the most important features of the AVADAR system is the engagement of over a hundred community informants per county and these are trained and equipped for the first time to provide timely reports that can be accessed at all levels from the county to National level and beyond thereby suspected cases investigated in an accurate and efficient way”, says Dr Sylvester Maleghemi, the WHO Polio Eradication Initiative Team Lead for South Sudan. The implementation of AVADAR improves community involvement and ownership of AFP surveillance activities and the wide spread of these informants increases the sensitivity of the system.
AVADAR is a mobile based reporting system which enables the health system to accurately record and share community-level AFP surveillance information from the Payam (administrative division) level including among highest priority sites such as the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) sites to the national level so as to demonstrate presence or absence of any poliovirus for timely response and interventions.
Basic information is collected and sent using the mobile application by community informants for any suspected AFP case identified in the community, which is then investigated by trained personnel from the Payam and County level to maintain the specificity of AFP detection and reporting.
To enhance AFP reporting system, WHO in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partners trained over 350 community informants and Payam surveillance officers. Each was provided with a mobile phone with the AVADAR application installed, allowing them to submit reports immediately to State and National level and verify any alerts of suspected AFP cases. All health workers (surveillance focal persons in health facilities inclusive) from both private and public health facilities and IDP sites were trained on the step by step process of AVADAR -implementation in an area (health area, counties, a province a country or a sub-region) to closely monitor performance in each Payam and ensure AFP case detection and timely investigation where needed.
“AVADAR is a unique digital innovation in public health surveillance in the African Region”, says Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. The electronic reports are submitted through the application by individuals within the community, which widens the surveillance network beyond healthcare workers.
AVADAR initially targeted for implementation in the Lake Chad Basin countries and other high-risk countries as well is now being requested by several partners to be scaled up in the region.
AVADAR is in line with the current African Region Transformation Agenda. The innovation will certainly add value to the traditional surveillance system as the region prepares for polio free certification by 2019.