Government and world health organisation (WHO), have revealed that the recently introduced Go.Data, a software tool for outbreak investigation and contact tracing has revolutionized data collection, collation and analysis which are critical in disease outbreaks situations.

In the recent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Kasese district, western Uganda, the tool enabled frontline health workers and District Health Teams (DHTs) to handle information management for contact follow-up and reporting in real-time.

Created by the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) group in close consultation with WHO Member states and partners, the Go.Data tool focusses on the core data record of a case, a set of contacts linked to that case and a set of follow-up records created for each contact.  In other words, the tool has strengthened follow-up of cases and contacts outbreaks involving human to human transmission of disease.

Its easy-to-use interface enabled EVD contact tracers with limited information and communication technology knowledge to easily collect and share data quickly with their supervisors.  They were not required to use tracing sheets, as Go.Data allowed them to collect real-time data and upload it to the dashboard for analysis.

Owing to the recurring health emergencies, the need for appropriate outbreak response tools during complex emergencies cannot be overemphasized. During emergencies, existing national public health surveillance systems may be underperforming, disrupted or non-existent. In addition, existing tools may not be comprehensive enough, or address requirements in the field during emergencies, leading to proliferation and fragmentation of data collection at the frontline.

With Go.Data, there is a shift to digital real-time data collection, analysis and communication during disease outbreak preparedness and responses.  Visualization of chains of transmission or report generation is done easily thus enabling decision-makers to make informed decisions. In addition, case management and contact data are also collected, analyzed and communicated to improve the response.

“These tools are being incorporated into Uganda’s outbreak readiness and response system to enhance data collection which in turn will improve preparedness and response,” says Mr Moses Bagyendera the Health Informatics Officer at WHO.

Globally, Uganda is the second country after Bangladesh to deploy the Go. Data tool in a disease outbreak situation. The tool that is easy to install and manage on computers and smartphones is indeed a work of genius in improving a country’s readiness and effectiveness in disease outbreak response.