Internet-based systems to report malaria cases in Ethiopia

By Johanna Daily | 25 Jun, 2009 Last edited by Sophie Beauvais on 07 Oct 2009

We are contemplating the set up of any kind of internet computer system in Ethiopia to allow reporting of malaria cases and epidemics to the central facility that can then respond : extremely rugged, value laden, simple, user friendly: hardware and software solutions would be most welcome: who can we turn to as providers of such technology as we put together a grant that needs this IT piece and experienced partnership (does not have to be academic based for example)
thank you johanna daily



Rogers Hellman Replied at 4:37 PM, 25 Jun 2009

Well, since that's what I'm building you are welcome to talk to me.


Jonathan Jackson Replied at 4:44 PM, 25 Jun 2009

Hi Johanna,

There are many options out there for this. When you say "internet based" do you mean that the folks reporting cases and epidemics would be doing the reporting over the internet? Depending on where you are in Ethiopia, this may be quick a challenge to keep the connectivity up and running.

There are LOTS of mobile solutions out that that would let your users collect data on application running on the phone or via SMS, and submit that data over the cellular network back to a computer. This may be another option.

If you suggest whether you mean internet (web-based) data-entry to mobile data-entry, that may help you to find viable partners.

Who are you picturing can respond to these reports? That may also dictate what type of solution you need. For example, if the people who need to respond are out in the field, then having it be web-based would be problematic if you are expecting the field workers to interface with the system directly.

Johanna Daily Replied at 5:03 PM, 25 Jun 2009

great i will meet Ethiopian partners in July and I will ask them these questions--a major problem is overall health reporting to the central clinics to assist in pharmacy stocking/epidemic response: i will ask them also how they want the reporting done --- best johanna

Jonathan Jackson Replied at 5:20 PM, 25 Jun 2009


Who are you working with there? Our colleagues at UNICEF set up an SMS based system for tracking plumpynut food supplies, so that system could possibly be utilized for some of this project if it was a good fit. Also, we worked with Tulane's program there to setup a pilot of a robust EMR System called SmartCare, there may be a way to overlap there as well. The Clinton Foundation also has a lot of staff in Addis working on a variety of initiatives, but I don't know if they would have overlap or not. If any of these projects sounds like good overlap with what you are looking at, please let me know.

Some types of questions that might be good to ask them: If you gave them perfect reports in real-time, what would they do about it? Who is empowered to go resolve problems found in the reports, what resources do they have to use. In the case of stock outs or low stock, is there a solution other than waiting until the next supply truck. Do you really need to know exact levels or do you need to know "stocked" "low" and "out"? In the case of a disease outbreak, what resources will be mobilized?


Johanna Daily Replied at 5:28 PM, 25 Jun 2009

in country solution would be GREAT: our partners are the MOH and we will follow their malaria strategic plan which needs enrichment in communication and systems of reporting: they have poor reporting, stock outages,undertx etc: so we want to fill in the holes and the IT piece is alot of it-(this is an NIH sponsored training grant for outcomes research and training in PMI in countries: they too emphasize IT)-will meet the MOH, medical school and NGO(PMI) partners when i visit and will present these options and get feedback txs johanna

Jonathan Jackson Replied at 5:38 PM, 25 Jun 2009

Johanna, Have you chatted with Steve Yoon at PMI at CDC? He has some experience with Ethiopia from when he was in GAP and also is very tech-savvy. Are you exploring technical capacity with the universities while you are there? The other thing you could recommend is that they pair whatever IT solution providers you utilize with local technical talent and the technical folks in the Ministry. There is also at least one outsourcing IT company that may be able to provide expertise as well (I know the man who runs it but have not used them directly). If you'd like intros over to any of these folks, please e-mail me: .

Holly Ladd Replied at 7:03 PM, 25 Jun 2009

Hi everyone --

We have just completed the development of a platform called GATHER that was designed as an open source tool to enable the use of cellular networks for data collection, alert generation and reporting. We tested GATHER in Uganda with 20 health centers reporting weekly disease surveillance data and it work quite well for this purpose.

GATHER is a platform that includes the capacity to create forms and send those forms out to mobile devices. At the moment we are using it with cellphones that have java with a program called JavaRosa, developed by the OpenRosa collaboration. The forms are installed on the phones to enable data collection off-line. When the forms are completed and ready to transmit, the call is placed to the GATHER sever and the data is sent as a data file over the GSM or GPRS network through an ISP to the GATHER server. The data is checked at the server to ensure that the forms are complete (if not a message is sent back to the originator indicating their error).

Data coming into the server is checked against a set of "rules" to determine if there are any anomalies. In the case of disease surveillance the system can determine if there is a higher than normal number of new cases reported and will send alerts by text message or email based on how you have configured your individual alert prefernences. For example, the district director may need to know if there are more than 10 new malaria cases in their distirct, but the national malaria program may not want to be alerted until there are 100 new cases.

Data is submitted into a database and from there reports will be automatically generated and sent out to a previously configured set of users or to other systems.

GATHER is currently being tested in four countries and will be made ready for general release later this year. I would be happy to provide further information on GATHER if you contact me at . You can also find more information on our website - see

PS - this system was developed by AED in collaboration with Dimagi (referenced in a previous email).


Holly Ladd

Johanna Daily Replied at 12:50 PM, 26 Jun 2009

Jonathan: we wish to have all our training be based in Hawassa University, an emerging public university in southern Ethiopia and the IT solution should be part of their solution as well (it was recently built and can benefit from similiar infrastructure)----I will talk with the partners and get back to you for intros
best johanna

Johanna Daily Replied at 1:09 PM, 26 Jun 2009

this is very interesting: do you know if anyone is using it yet in Ethiopia? I will certainly add this to the list of possilbe IT solutions to present to my partners txs johanna