Sierra Leone decentralizes COVID-19 data management
The first cases of COVID-19 were first reported in China. As of January 27, 2023, there had been more than 669,459,397 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 6,797,895 deaths worldwide. In Sierra Leone, 126 deaths and 7,760 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported, and 6,450,379 COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered as of January 26, 2023, to contain the spread of the deadly viral disease.
Despite the impressive vaccine coverage, data backlog remains a challenge. Several attempts have been made to clear the backlog entry into DHIS2, which stood at slightly above 1.5 million before the AFENET intervention. The main challenge is data entry staff shortage during surge campaigns and poor internet connectivity for real-time data transmission. To address the COVID-19 vaccination data entry backlog, AFENET, in collaboration with the US CDC and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, trained 1,007 (70%) health facility-level staff on direct data entry at the facility. The training took place between August & September 2022. The new strategy is an improvement from the old practice of transporting the screening forms to the district level for data entry. These facilities were provided with data bundles, voice calls, conference data entry and data quality audits.
Following the success of the intervention, the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) program requested the support of partners like Population Service International (PSI) to train the remaining 30% of the facility-level staff on direct data entry. AFENET provided technical support on DHIS2 and facilitated sessions during the training from 29 January – 09 February 2023. All the 1,439 health facilities providing immunization services are now trained and supported on DHIS2 direct reporting and data management. The data entry is currently being done at the source facility instead of sending the forms to the district. During the training, 287,800 records were entered on the DHIS2 platform as part of the data backlog entry practical session.