By Victoria Ojeme
The Federal Government has introduced the use of small messaging service, SMS, for collection of data for malaria control and immunization vaccine to help workers monitor the implementation of health interventions more effectively.
The Minister of Health, Prof Oyebuchi Chukwu, who made this known while showcasing Rapid SMS in Nigeria Technology and partnerships for children thursday, said the move was a collaborative effort between the government and UNICEF.
Prof Chwuku, who was represented by the National Coordinator, National Malaria Control Programme, Dr Babajide Coker, said the use of Rapid SMS technology was to allow access to local government area focal persons with real-time data from health facilities.
According to him, “our goal is to take Rapid SMS technology into every operation of National Malaria Control Programme, NMCP, particularly to facility level in 774 LGAs for routine data management, track changes over time in service delivery and utilization, informing service and resource planning”.
“The RapidSMS technology has been deployed in stand-alone campaigns in Kano, Anambra, Rivers, Akwa Ibom States.
“It has also been used to track and coordinate delivery of Long Lasting Insecticidal Nets, LLINs, and other commodities, such as oral polio vaccine and other vaccines.
“Newborn and child health weeks in Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna and Adamawa states, National Primary Health Care Development Agency also used the Rapid sms technology during Immunisation Plus Days, IPDs, to track non-compliance, missed children and vaccine shortages in Borno state.”
In her speech, UNICEF country representative, Dr Suomi Sakai, said the goal of the campaign was to reduce Nigeria’s burden of malaria by half by the end of 2010.
According to Dr Sakai, SMS are sent to a toll-free short code number, provided by the GSM providers (MTN and Zain for now)-24453.
“The SMS are then analyzed and uploaded into the web site as reports for decision makers at all levels for action,” Dr. Sakai said.