Since the coronavirus outbreak, Elsi’s team have been using EU-backed SORMAS technology to track the spread of coronavirus in Nigeria. SORMAS stands for Surveillance Outbreak Response Management and Analysis System. It’s free to use and easy to set up.
The software has been deployed in Nigeria and Ghana in cooperation with local authorities and health bodies, such as the Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control. It lets healthcare workers around the country enter their findings into a shared database. Information about confirmed or suspected cases is then relayed back to analysts.
Developing countries often rely on paper-based medical records, which take much longer to process manually and can be misplaced. Because of this, governments can struggle to maintain an accurate oversight of how fast the disease is spreading. This is what makes SORMAS digital technology so revolutionary. The data is immediately communicated and authorities can coordinate their actions in real time as they confront the spread of a disease. They can also use it to predict future outbreaks.
"We are optimistic that the nationwide deployment of SORMAS… will continue to make a remarkable difference in our fight against infectious diseases and especially COVID-19."
A new dawn for old technology
Nigeria and Ghana successfully deployed SORMAS technology during the Ebola crisis a few years ago. When the coronavirus pandemic was declared, the German developer behind the software - the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research - updated it so that Covid-specific data could be gathered.
Thanks to EU deployment support, both Nigeria and Ghana immediately activated the coronavirus update in more than 400 districts already using SORMAS, as well as in ports of entry such as airports and harbours.
The disease tracking system is making a huge difference on the ground. In Nigeria and Ghana, it now covers around 85 million people. And thanks to EU help, SORMAS is now also being used in Ivory Coast and Nepal.
© GIZ, Ucheh Jackson, 2019
In a global pandemic, international cooperation helps keep us safe. Disease knows no borders and we must work together with partners around the world to ensure that everyone is protected. This means investing in smart solutions, like the EU did in SORMAS, and making sure the technology is readily available for all to use. By working in solidarity, we will overcome together and emerge stronger from the pandemic.