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Technology to Monitor Malaria in Zambia, Senegal and Ethiopia

Starschema Ltd., a big data company in Hungary, and PATH, a global organisation that works to accelerate health equity, have launched a software integration that will enable health workers to easily and securely access data visualizations within their country’s existing health management information system.

Source: PATH

This development, which will be rolled out initially in Zambia, Senegal, and Ethiopia to monitor malaria, integrates two existing software platforms into one user-friendly interface.

The collection and analysis of mountains of medical information, or the use of big data technologies provides increasingly effective tools to fight infectious disease.

A great example is Zambia, where innovative use of data has contributed to an 85 percent decrease in malaria cases in the country’s Southern Province between 2014 and 2017.

To create an integrated system based on similar principles, PATH and Starschema Ltd. joined forces.

The result of their work is an integration that enables health workers to use existing data tools more efficiently through making data visualizations (created in Tableau) accessible within the District Health Information System (DHIS2), a free open-source health management data platform used in more than 50 countries.

Previously, health workers accessed the two systems independently. Now through Starschema and PATH’s solution they are able to securely view the Tableau dashboards within DHIS2 with the click of a button.

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The DHIS2 established by WHO (World Health Organisation) contains medical records, the results of medical examinations, tests, treatments and patient details from all over the world. These are mostly data recorded by local doctors and health workers on a daily basis.

Besides DHIS2, the new integrated system aggregates information concerning healthcare institutions (hospitals, health facilities, etc), map data and other data sources.

“We helped build an application that enables professionals to use a single platform for tracking the spread of diseases, for tackling the challenge of analysing data sets which can easily contain millions of records, for discovering emerging disease patterns, and for determining the critical regions where prevention or immediate action is necessary. We provided the coding, analytical and technical expertise necessary to help realise this goal,” – this is how Tamas Foldi, CEO of Starschema, summarised the project.

“We have these two wonderful tools – DHIS2, which is used in dozens of countries, and Tableau, which is a best-in-class software for data visualization and analytics – now thanks to Starschema, for users it’s as if there’s one tool.” says Jonathan Drummey, a data visualization specialist at PATH. “The key to eliminating malaria lies not just in the tools, but how they’re employed. This integration of applications simplifies the demanding jobs of health workers whose work is challenging but critical to making progress against disease,” Drummey added.

“Access to quality and timely information is not only critical for reducing the disease burden but also for increasing health equity. Through this application integration, health workers will receive data faster and easier, enabling them to better track malaria cases, understand trends and ultimately drive toward eliminating this deadly disease,” said Jeff Bernson, chief data officer at PATH. “The roadblocks to health are many, but access to better data insights should not be one of them.”

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Written by PH

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