Alert-Epidemics is an alert processing and notification system to detect and respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases in precarious situations, including measles, meningitis, cholera and Covid19.
Status of the project
- Problem analysis
The identified gap
Niger regularly experiences large-scale epidemics. Its paper-based surveillance system and the difficulties of circulating information in precarious situations lead to long delays in reporting epidemic alerts. Intervention teams from MSF or the Ministry of Health often arrive too late and very rarely have a clear picture of the health situation, making effective intervention and preventive actions difficult. The early identification of an infectious disease epidemic allows for a faster and targeted response. This could limit the transmission of the disease, and would, thanks to faster management, reduce mortality.
The MSF Foundation’s response
The MSF Foundation and its partners have strengthened existing surveillance systems – at community, peripheral, regional and national levels – by developing and then deploying a digital platform, suitable for areas where internet connection is extremely limited. It enables a faster and more targeted response by guiding users to instantly identify and report outbreak-prone disease case alerts, increasing the number of alerts reported and their speed of transmission.
Furthermore, these feedback loops create a better understanding of epidemiological trends by building a knowledge database. This allows MSF and MOH teams to better plan prevention activities and thus provide a more effective response.
In 2020, Niger, like others, was hit by Covid-19. In addition to the direct effects of the disease, the pandemic was likely to cause other serious long-term consequences on the population’s health. During this time, many people struggle to access care. Around the world, in 2020, 23 million children missed their routine vaccination, raising feaAlerte-Covid19 was the first application implemented in Niger. This application was created by The Foundation in collaboration with Epicenter and Medic Mobile following a request from the Nigerian Ministry of Public Health. It played a major role in stabilizing the health situation in Niger and triggered a reflection on the possibility of adapting the system to deal with other major epidemics in Niger and in other countries.rs of major epidemic outbreaks, particularly in MSF intervention areas. The concern was great in a country like Niger, already subject to recurrent epidemics of infectious diseases, resulting in high rates of morbidity and mortality. Measles and meningitis are preventable by vaccination, but they can spread extremely quickly when vaccination coverage is insufficient.
To respond to this major challenge, the MSF Foundation, in collaboration with Epicenter, the Niger Ministry of Health and Medic Mobile, developed the Epidemic Alert program. It comprises today two applications in Niger, Alerte-Covid19 and Alerte-Niger. It contributes to the fight against epidemics by improving the system for detecting and reporting alerts.
Alerte-Covid19 was the first application implemented in Niger. This application was created by The Foundation in collaboration with Epicenter and Medic Mobile following a request from the Nigerian Ministry of Public Health. It played a major role in stabilizing the health situation in Niger and triggered a reflection on the possibility of adapting the system to deal with other major epidemics in Niger and in other countries.
Interview with Bachir Assao, epidemiologic coordinator at Epicentre of the Alert Niger project
Alerte-Covid19 is a tool for managing, receiving and investigating Covid19 alerts and has been operational throughout Niger. It guided Emergency Call Center operators to determine whether the people who contact them showed signs or symptoms of infection with the virus and then reported them via a dedicated platform. It also allowed health workers and focal points in health centers and hospitals to notify Covid19 alerts. The platform centralized all data from the national alert center and regional alert centers. Suspected cases reported through the application were instantly redirected by region and assigned to investigators who began an investigation in the field to determine the diagnosis. Once the investigation had been carried out, the investigator notified his report directly on the platform, allowing health authorities to determine the need for other actions such as contact tracing. To date, 97% of alerts received had been investigated.
Alerte-Niger is the second application developed by the MSF Foundation together with the Ministry of Public Health of Niger, Epicenter and Medic Mobile. By being deployed in the Maradi Region, this application, designed to fight against epidemics of measles, meningitis and cholera, now complements the Epidemic Alert program.