Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30791909
Link to DOI – 10.1186/s12936-019-2683-4
Malar J 2019 Feb; 18(1): 45
As surveillance is a key strategy for malaria elimination in South Africa, ensuring strong surveillance systems is a National Department of Health priority. Historically, real time tracking of case trends and reporting within 24 h-a requirement in South Africa’s National surveillance guidelines-has not been possible. To enhance surveillance and response efficiency, a mobile surveillance tool, MalariaConnect, was developed using Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) technology. It was rolled out in health facilities in malaria endemic areas of South Africa to provide 24-h reporting of malaria cases.To evaluate the efficiency of the mobile tool to detect an outbreak data were extracted from the paper based and MalariaConnect reporting systems in Bushbuckridge from 1 January to 18 June 2017. These data were subject to time series analyses to determine if MalariaConnect provided sufficient data reliably to detect increasing case trends reported through the paper system. The Chi squared test was used to determine goodness of fit between the following indicator data generated using MalariaConnect and paper reporting systems: timeliness, completeness, and precision.MalariaConnect adequately tracked case trends reported through the paper system. Timeliness of reporting increased significantly using MalariaConnect with 0.63 days to notification compared to 5.65 days using the paper-system (p < 0.05). The completeness of reporting was significantly higher for the paper system (100% completion; p < 0.05), compared to confirmed MalariaConnect cases (61%). There was a moderate association between data precision and the reporting system (p < 0.05). MalariaConnect provided an effective way of reliably and accurately identifying the onset of the malaria outbreak in Bushbuckridge.Timeliness significantly improved using MalariaConnect and in a malaria elimination setting, can be used to markedly improve case investigation and response activities within the recommended 72-h period. Although data completeness and precision were lower compared to paper reporting, MalariaConnect data can be used to trigger outbreak responses.