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SORMAS – early warning of epidemics via software

At a glance

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 showed that efficient disease surveillance systems are urgently required. Digital solutions don’t just help to identify epidemics sooner, in some cases they can even help prevent them entirely. SORMAS’ vision is to develop a software system that can be used to collect all data and information from remote regions to enable rapid action in an emergency. German scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) as well as Nigerian researchers are using software to combat the outbreak of infectious diseases in Nigeria.

The open source software records data on disease control in real time and enables the monitoring, early detection and containment of outbreaks of infectious diseases, such as Ebola, measles, bird flu and cholera (e.g. by isolating the contact persons). This is supported by the regional project of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), “Support Pandemic Prevention in the ECOWAS Region” headed by the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) in the context of the “Digital Africa” initiative. SORMAS is currently being used by a total of 155 health districts in 10 Nigerian states and has been successfully used to combat a monkeypox, Lassa fever and meningitis outbreak. Even today, the system can potentially be used to reach over 50 million people in Nigeria. An expansion to Ghana is planned.

The software currently covers 12 priority infectious diseases that have the potential to become an epidemic and can be expanded to new diseases on an ad-hoc basis. The mobile and web-based app supports decision-makers with the availability and analysis of monitoring data. The tool is currently being rolled out throughout Nigeria, while a pilot project is in being implemented in Ghana. A new module on Covid-19 was developed in response to the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. The Nigerian CDC as well as the Ghana Health Service are already using the Covid-19 module with the support of the GIZ regional projects for pandemic prevention. The Nepalese health authorities are also planning to use SORMAS to monitor the corona outbreak.

 

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