Rohingya crisis: WHO introduces new software for epidemiologists to control disease outbreak
Cox's Bazar (18-21 March 2019) - Over the past week, WHO and the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) have trained public health experts in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, in using a newly developed piece of software called Go.Data. The training is part of the global roll-out of Go.Data, a software which allows conducting outbreak investigations, including field data collection, contact tracing and visualization of disease chains of transmission. The new software was developed in collaboration with GOARN, WHO and other partner organizations.
“Go.Data will allow building disease transmission trees rapidly, sharing of data between partners and tracing of contacts in a more effective way than we ever did before,” said Armand Bejtullahu, the project leader at WHO.
WHO and GOARN organized this very first Go.Data training globally for public health experts from government, UN agencies, local and international NGOs in Cox’s Bazar. The users trained are now well versed in all functionalities of the software and would be able to play an administrator role in response, assigning roles and responsibilities, organizing data entry and coordinating analysis.
Outbreaks in Cox’s Bazar
“Go.Data is designed for outbreak environments where there is human-to-human transmission, such as the diphtheria outbreak, where health workers have to identify people who were in contact with the infected person so they can get appropriate treatment and avoid further spread of the disease”, said Dr Paul Effler, Member of the Steering Committee, GOARN.
Approximately one million Rohingyas have fled violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State and crossed into Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh – one of the country’s poorest districts. Crowded living conditions, poor water, and sanitation facilities have made the refugee camps prone to diseases outbreaks that could quickly spread. In December 2017, there was a diphtheria outbreak with thousands of suspected cases and 45 deaths.
The newly developed Go.Data outbreak investigation software runs in online and offline modes, enabling more flexibility to working and data sharing. In addition, it allows access through mobile devices, especially to support field work of the contact tracing teams. The software is based on multiple modules, uses a set of roles and permissions and utilizes an optional mobile app for contact follow-up. The tool is built with a modular approach in mind which allows future expansion to accommodate new scenarios.
The joint project is an innovative use of digital technology for health operations that resulted from the cooperation of WHO and GOARN Partner institutions starting 2015.
The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) is a collaboration of institutions and networks across the world involved in communicable disease response which is constantly alert and ready to respond. The network pools human and technical resources for rapid identification, confirmation, and response to outbreaks of international importance.