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Abt Helps Senegal Map the COVID-19 Pandemic

To contain COVID-19 you need sophisticated data collection and analysis, something Senegal’s Ministry of Health knows well. That’s why the Ministry’s Health and Social Mapping Unit subscribes to a web-based geographic information system (GIS). Using data collected locally, the GIS illustrates the data in ways that make it easier for stakeholders to know where and how to act. Abt Global—by leading USAID’s Health System Strengthening (HSS) Plus project—is providing technical assistance to support Senegal’s use of the GIS.  The tool serves two purposes: first, it’s strengthening the epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 (and, in that role, it serves as the primary weapon in the national response). Second, with the software’s success, the Unit also is hoping to get the support of health authorities and partners for the purchase of a more complete suite of solutions later that will provide mapping to a more granular level (e.g. community). The long-term objective of HSS Plus is to help the Ministry acquire the full range of mapping tools, ensure the quality of the data entered into the tool, and to support decision-making using the tool.  

To help ensure the Unit’s continued success, HSS Plus—engaging with the head of Senegal’s Health Management Information System—manages the mapping process, from designing the tool’s dashboard to coaching and mentoring districts and regions on how accurate data can help make decisions that improve health services. This includes helping ensure that the health information system and GIS mapping is complete with health information disaggregated by age, gender, and geography, as well as ensuring the accuracy of the information to make important decisions about where to allocate resources. 

More specifically, the assistance provided by HSS Plus over the past four years has focused on providing:

  • Help to identify facilities that don’t meet Senegal's minimum health standards for infrastructure, equipment, and human resources.
  • Regular technical support to data managers at the district and regional level to ensure the quality of the data used to update the health map, and to help them identify what actions they might need to take to improve their data quality.
  • Technical support to help the district and regional medical teams analyze trends and interpret health data, and define the actions needed to meet the health norms.

The mapping software shows key data, such as the number of confirmed cases, the number of cases receiving treatment, and the number of deaths—all disaggregated by district and by day. The resulting data visualization—built to HSS Plus and the Ministry’s specifications—allows the government to quickly see the epicenter of COVID-19 infections and the evolution of cases. This data enables the near real-time allocation of financial and human resources for health, equipment and supplies. The online mapping tool also is available for the general public’s awareness, and can be disseminated in the form of web maps, tables, and graphs. With the data and these tools, Senegal is able to make important decisions about where to allocate resources. 

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