The newly launched system now allows the registration team to collect information about patients’ geographic origin down to ward, subward and shina levels - the most hyperlocal administrative boundary, mapped for the first time in Tanzania by Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team’s local partner, Open Map Development Tanzania through the Data Zetu Project.
HOT began work to update Amana’s registration system and input the names of 31 wards and 148 subwards in the hospital’s catchment.
They then trained 20 key hospital staff on how to use the new location system as well as providing ongoing support. Asha Mustapher, Mapping Supervisor at HOT says this is the first time that Dar es Salaam has been mapped in such a detailed way.
“We trained and worked with community members to use simple tools to map their communities. We then shared the data with community leaders and local governments to help them make better discussions for their communities.
We have now shared this data with Amana Hospital to help them find out which communities in which locations are in more danger of certain disease.”
The patient origin data will now allow medical staff like Dr. Omar Mahiza to gauge exactly where the most cases of certain diseases originate and spread. But Dr. Mahiza also has hopes to use the data to help prevent disease and infection.
“Once we have enough data we can get to work on problem diseases in their problem areas.” Dr. Mahiza’s method of disease prevention is simple, “Education and awareness raising are key.
Once we have highlighted which areas are prone to malnutrition in infants for example, we can take more aggressive steps to work with those specific communities and their leaders to educate parents about right nutrition.”
Of course, the new system will also be an impactful tool in tracking and preventing infectious diseases such as cholera. The doctor also thinks the data can help to change Tanzania’s health system from the top down. Presently, Dr. Mahiza and other pediatricians in the district have to refer all cases of infant acute malnutrition to Muhimbili Hospital, the only facility equipped to handle such cases.
“If we have enough data showing other areas in the district with high numbers of acute infant malnutrition, we might be able to influence government to invest more in tackling malnutrition.” Doctors Need to Love Data Dr. Mahiza urges Tanzanian hospitals to prioritize data collecting and preservation:
“It appears that many of our hospitals collect data as simple routine. We have a hands-off approach when it comes to using our own records and data, and only look at our data when the Ministry of Health comes to collect them.”
The hospital’s head of record keeping, Fatma Mlawa agrees with Doctor Mahiza, stating that although the hospital spends much time and resources in collecting data, none of it is often used after collection.
“We receive over 2000 patients a day and we have 3 key staff collecting the data on different shifts. It’s a time consuming task so it’s important that we use the information collected to make a difference,” she urges.
Both HOT and Dr. Mahiza are keenly waiting to use the data in the near future. “This is the first project of its kind in the country,” Asha Mustapher says.
Indeed, Amana Hospital stands to be a very important point of reference for other medical facilities in the country. “If this project works well here it will be a pilot to roll out to other facilities in the country,” she adds.