Access to healthcare is one of the most important benefits of the use of digital technology in most vulnerable and disadvantaged areas. Real-time and accurate health data supports SIDS in informed decision making and improved delivery of health services. Digitalization of the health systems has become the smarter approach to tackle limiting circumstances and resources in areas with challenging operating environments (COEs). As discussed in previous bulletins, SIDS are eliminating these gaps with the accuracy and efficiency of digital solutions to create ripple effects across public health systems.
Guinea-Bissau has taken leadership to use the opportunities of digital to respond to a complex health environment, such as the challenge that 66 percent of the total population of Guinea-Bissau is approximately 5 km from the nearest health facility, with 13,500 inhabitants for every one health center. Integrating the digitalization of community health data has allowed to Guinea-Bissau to strengthen their health system within District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2) as an information management system to evaluate the performance of the country’s health services, track key programmes (immunization, HIV, TB, and malaria), and follow through on patient-level cases. Automated analytical outputs and data visualization of the DHIS2 support the community health workers and decision-makers to optimize the resources in the ground and produce meaningful healthcare results. This initiative paved the way for Guinea-Bissau to be one of the first countries to adopt the DHIS2 COVID-19 Surveillance packages in 2020. It simplified the process of the tracing, testing, and data integration with current health systems which gave leverage to Guinea-Bissau in managing the pandemic.
While technology fills the gap, digital inclusion is a central for maximizing the benefit of digital and data tools. The critical role of digital technologies and constant capacity-building of the system and data users are key to strengthening access to healthcare services for the most vulnerable.
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