Africa: Annual SMERG Meeting Drives Digitalisation of Malaria Surveillance
The RBM Partnership to End Malaria hosted its 33rd meeting of the Surveillance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Reference Group (SMERG) from 17 to 20 May 2022 in Kigali, Rwanda. Discussions focused on ways to streamline surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation to sustain crucial gains and fully respond to emerging priorities in malaria control and elimination, including the use of digital technologies.
Malaria Consortium has been supporting surveillance activities in Africa and Asia since 2009. In particular, providing technical expertise to countries and regional platforms to support the development of smarter, data-informed surveillance strategies that will be key to achieving the World Health Organization’s (WHO) target of reducing malaria cases and deaths by 90 percent by 2030.
In May 2021, SMERG established the Surveillance Practice and Data Quality (SP&DQ) Committee to highlight malaria surveillance interventions, initiatives and projects and increase the awareness of the importance of malaria surveillance. The Committee gives opportunities for implementing partners and National Malaria Control Programs (NMCPs) to present projects, best practices as well as lessons learned through communication initiatives like the Malaria Routine Data in Action webinars, RBM SMERG SP&DQ Committee Newsletter and the new Malaria Surveillance Project Dashboard for tracking implementing partners’ operational surveillance projects.
Malaria Consortium developed a landscape analysis and survey for implementing partners, which was used to build the Dashboard. Malaria Consortium’s Head of Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Arantxa Roca-Feltrer, co-leads the SP&DQ Committee and gave an update on RBM dashboards at the meeting. She commented:
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“I am very excited to see the first operational surveillance tracker launched in the RBM dashboards. This will facilitate communication of current partners’ projects focused on surveillance and data quality across all malaria endemic countries. A National Malaria Control Program Operational Surveillance tracker is now currently being developed, using a subset of the newly developed World Health Organization Surveillance Toolkit and is expected to be released as an additional RBM dashboard by the end of the year.”
Poppy Farrow, Malaria Consortium Senior Digital Strategy Specialist, also presented on the role of digital technology in streamlining the collection, reporting and use of malaria surveillance data. She noted:
“Digitising a community health information system (CHIS) can support more granular malaria surveillance as individual and household levels provide real time data. EA digital CHIS can be used to monitor a large-scale workforce on data collection and quality and improve data-informed decision-making. This can support malaria elimination efforts through adaptation to provide case-base notifications and supporting integration of other systems into the architecture. Its existing current scale, eco-system and open-source modelling means it can become interoperable and support data flow between routine and campaign systems, which can improve health system strengthening and avoid duplication efforts with a streamlined single platform solution.”
Monica Anna de Cola, Results Measurement Analyst at Malaria Consortium, also presented at the meeting on monitoring and evaluating effective implementation of seasonal malaria chemoprevention.
Image: National Cancer Institute