The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) is working with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to adapt an information system designed to monitor the HIV epidemic for all emerging and reemerging infectious disease threats across Africa. UNAIDS has worked with governments across Africa to develop the HIV situation room, a software application that connects to government, hospital, and laboratory databases and delivers instantaneous, visually engaging reports on the AIDS epidemic. The HIV situation room is currently being used by Heads of State and Ministries of Health in seven African countries, Lesotho, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Innovations in information sharing in this digital age can be used to improve surveillance, emergency response and prevention of infectious diseases. The sharing of best practices among HIV situation room pilot countries is important in assessing scalability and will provide important lessons for the Africa CDC as it introduces its first phase of the situation room” said Hon. Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, the Minister of Health of the Republic of Zambia.
Africa CDC and UNAIDS agreed to work together on adapting the situation room to monitor emerging disease threats in Africa, such as meningitis, cholera, meningitis, typhoid fever, and yellow fever. Through this platform Africa CDC will be able to have real-time reports about diseases and work with Ministries of Health and partners to detect and control outbreaks rapidly.
“Developing and strengthening information systems that support public health strategies in Africa is a fundamental pillar that impacts on all other aspects of our strategy including surveillance and disease intelligence, laboratory systems and networks, emergency preparedness and response and public health research. The situation room has worked well in the HIV response and can be scaled up to cover various diseases and further strengthen Africa health information systems’ said Dr. Benjamin Djoudalbaye, Head of Policy and Health Diplomacy, Africa CDC.
Africa CDC is working through its Regional Collaborating Centres to accelerate exchange of information and specimens to identify and mitigate disease risks. Information about disease threats already exists within various electronic systems, but is often not analysed and reported quickly or completely. With its ability to directly access and analyse data from hospital, laboratory, and government systems, the situation room is an innovative solution to these problems.
Africa CDC and UNAIDS will organise another forum later in the year to present preliminary results of using this system for emerging disease threats.