One SMS Saves Lives in Madagascar

Haja Andriamiharisoa, Eliane Razafimandimby, Jean Pierre Rakotovao, Jean Eugene Injerona, Zo Harifetra, Lalanirina H. Ravony, Rado Randriamboavonjy, Jocelyn Razafindrakoto, and Laurent Kapesa have been working with the USAID Maternal and Child Survival Program. At the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene they presented their experiences on “Improving Procurement and Redeployment of Malaria Commodities Using SMS and Web Mapping at a District Level in Madagascar,” and are also sharing via this posting.

Malaria is a public health problem in Madagascar. In 2016, the frequency of diseases at health center level, places malaria at the 4th cause of hospital morbidity and mortality. Out of about 30 thirty diseases, malaria accounts for 5.6% of all cases.

Health facilities often experience commodity stock-outs of products used for malaria prevention and case management. The existing logistics reporting system does not allow for macro or micro views of the monthly stock situation at the health facility level, which inhibits rapid decision-making.

On January 2018, implementation of a fast data collection system and easy-to-use data visualization began. The tool was based on the use of SMS and web mapping to map the level of monthly keys stock of commodities. The data are sent by providers at facility level via structured SMS and are published by a web server by a web mapping process. Note that sending a monthly SMS costs 9 US cents per facility. Providers at 773 health facilities in 16 regions of Madagascar sent monthly SMS (each message cost $0.09) with ART, ACT, and ITN stock levels.

  • Sample message: “Please send the quantity in stock at the end of month in: ART, ACT, ITN.”
  • Structure like: “palu csbcode year month ART ACT ITN. Thank you.”
  • Sample of answer received: “palu 520241031 D A 200 25 0”

Thus was created an easy-to-use tool from data received. It was free to use, and no password was needed. The SMS is simple and short (of 40 forty characters, composed of:

  • “palu” diminutive of malaria so that the system is ready for data collection from other cases
  • the health facility code : 520241031
  • year : here D : as project has implemented sms data collecting system since 2015 = A
  • month : here A that means January
  • stock of Injectable Artesunate (ART) : 200
  • stock of tablet for Artemisininbased combination therapy (ACT) : 25
  • stock of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) : 0

Providers send SMS after completing the Monthly Activity Report. (CSB = Centre de Santé de Base, or basic health center). The received data are then displayed as web mapping on a Google map background, embedded on a web page. From this screen shot, The page displays a map of stock outs for the selected month, and monthly charts of the stock status of the three commodities. Accessing this website, is open, without restriction.

From the end of January to the end of June 2018, a hundred health facilities sent SMS each month. The data we received shows that on average:

  • 75% Average stock-out of ITN
  • 53% Average stock-out of ART
  • 9% Average stock-out of ACT

The attached three-map picture provides a broad view from three screenshots of the system, showing the evolution of stock-outs at a facility level

  • Each point represents health facilities:
  • When the dot is green, this means that the 03 commodities are available in stock
  • When in brown, at least one of the 03 elements is unavailable
  • At first sight, there are more stockouts than stock availability and a tendency of the reduction of green points over the months
  • Appropriate decision-making would change the points of the map of the following months to green

After this broad view of the country’s overall situation and given the large number of facilities with out of stock, an emergency supply for all districts was done for some medicine since February 2018. Based on maps and stats, we could improve our interventions at a CSB level through rapid and adequate decision-making as in the supply of ITN and ART.

In conclusion, the use of SMS data collection to map stock-outs online can quickly improve input supply through simple spatial analysis. Sending SMSs to alert district-level officials about overstock in facilities at the same district level can solve many stock-out issues. All districts were restocked using this SMS and Web mapping system, but routing to the CSBs remains a challenge. Punctual stock-out reporting could significantly reduce the morbidity and mortality caused by malaria.

This presentation was made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under the terms of the Cooperative Agreement AID-OAA-A- 14-00028. The contents are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.

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