Until very recently, healthcare workers and teams working on the front line against COVID-19 in Zambia had no access to real-time data about the pandemic in their country. All data was stored in spreadsheets and on paper, leading to difficulties in understanding the real impact of the pandemic. This lack of data limited the speed of the response, and prevented the healthcare teams, who were already working at maximum capacity, targeting their interventions and screening to those areas and populations that most needed them.
Through USAID, Right to Care’s (RTC) Geographic Information System (GIS) and planning unit in partnership with the Zambia National Public Health Institute (ZNPHI) decided to change this situation and make accurate data widely available wherever and whenever it was needed. The team developed an electronic dashboard to provide real-time, location-specific data on all aspects of the pandemic, including, by way of example, the total number of new and active cases, the total number of tests conducted and the total number of fatalities.
By using a dashboard the information is presented in an easy to use and understand format, so that, at just a glance, healthcare practitioners can see the most affected areas, the rate of spread and the concerns to be addressed.
Provision of data in this usable format thus allows healthcare teams to make optimal, evidence-based decisions about resource allocation, and to target interventions accordingly Through the gathering of long-term data, patterns and trends can also be established, so that predictions can be made about the future trajectory of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
In addition to this, through an app, the team provided the data gathered about the pandemic to the general public, allowing the Zambian people to feel informed and engaged in the fight against COVID.
Accountability and transparency through the use of data not only, therefore, aids healthcare professionals and teams in Zambia, but additionally, engages the general public in the response, helping to promote the required behavioural changes necessary to stop the spread of this pandemic.
This major step-forward in data collection, presentation and usage to create a real-time ‘picture’ of the situation, is empowering both healthcare providers and the general public across the entire country to fight COVID-19. Through informed decision-making and a commitment to the required behavioural adaptations, lives will be saved.