A digital revolution fighting infectious diseases

Communiqué de presse: Une révolution digitale contre les maladies infectieuses

In response to the pandemic in West Africa, the Swiss children's aid organisation Terre des hommes is developing new functionalities on its digital diagnostic tool deployed in 1200 clinics in Burkina Faso, and soon to be implemented in India. It is an emergency response that relies on digital technology to make rapid progress in the fight against Covid-19 and infectious disease epidemics.

Health systems in West Africa suffer from significant gaps that limit the quality of care. Nearly one child in ten does not reach the age of five, often due to misdiagnosis. Terre des hommes (Tdh) has developed the IeDA diagnostic tool1, based on the WHO and UNICEF clinical protocol for children under five. In the form of an application, IeDA is installed on tablets used in health centres in Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, where 1200 clinics are equipped with this tool, i.e. 60% of the country. To date, 200,000 clinical consultations of children are carried out per month, thanks to IeDA. 

Emergency response to Covid-19 

To fight the pandemic, new functionalities are being developed. They support health workers in raising awareness and prevention among patients. A triage algorithm identifies and follows up any suspected cases of Covid-19. Ongoing training helps medical staff to avoid the spread in health centres and informs them about the maternal-infant risks of the virus. These functionalities are downloaded on tablets already equipped with the IeDA application - a quick solution responding to the situation’s emergency. Indicators synthesizing the collected data will be handed over to the Ministry of Health in order to monitor the real time impact of Covid-19; a measure that is part of a long-term strategy to strengthen the health system. 

The digital health revolution 

Thanks to strong support from international donors active in the health sector, and with the collaboration of partners and advanced research institutes, IeDA is expanding. It will be deployed in 150 additional clinics in Burkina Faso. A pilot of the project will be launched in India, in the state of Jharkhand, in early 2021. Its functionalities will also be extended to the care of pregnant women and newborns, the monitoring of malnourished children, and other diseases common in West Africa, such as dengue fever. “Thanks to artificial intelligence, the analyses of the data generated by IeDA will help us to anticipate the evolution of epidemics with great precision, but also to improve medical diagnosis, which remains a major problem in many of the contexts we work in", explains Riccardo Lampariello, Head of the Tdh health programme. An approach that will strengthen the monitoring of the impact of Covid-19, the care of sick children and the fight against infectious diseases. 

1 IeDA : Integrated e-Diagnostic Approach

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