Case Study

Using Apps to Collect Data and Connect Ebola-Affected Communities to Services and Educational Events

  • Provided By: Journey
  • April 23, 2015

More Than Me Academy (MTM) is a tuition-free girls school whose mission is to educate vulnerable girls from the West Point Slum of Liberia and to create opportunities for these girls to transform their lives. After the outbreak of Ebola, their story evolved and they have partnered with the Ministry of Health and other partners on the ground to get Ebola out of the West Point. They are now focused on survivor support and reintegration.

Key Challenges

When the Ebola outbreak first started, MTM was using paper forms to capture data, which would often take a week to two weeks to process and for the information to be available for response. Sam Herring, MTM’s data manager, realized the drawbacks of this long turn-around time, and was looking for a solution that would allow for quicker data capturing, and better coordination of field workers. It was also time consuming to analyze data and quantify actions to Donors, which was critical in ensuring that they receive funding for their mission.

“In order to be effective during any crisis, accessing real­time data is paramount as time is of the essence.” - Sam Herring, Data Manager

The solution

The first version of the app included four use cases: contact tracing, quarantine management, orphan tracking and ambulance services. Later we added an Education Events module for Ebola Survivors, to determine what the needs of survivors are and how they are being treated.

App Modules:

  • Contact Tracing: Finding everyone who came in direct contact with an infected Ebola patient.
  • Quarantine Management: Observe and evaluate children under quarantine.
  • Orphan Tracking: Case files for children abandoned due to parents contracting Ebola.
  • Ambulance Services: Patient data collection by ambulance teams.
  • Education Events: Coordinate and track Ebola education events in communities.

Impact

MTM has a team of 250 field workers. They started with a pilot of only 15 people, and based on the success of this pilot, deployed an additional 125 phones.

Sam Herring, their data manager went from spending 60 hours per week manually inputting data, and analyzing and reporting data, to 18 hours per week only analyzing and reporting data.

“As data manager, my biggest hurdle has been accessing real time data and the use of paper based forms has proven to be challenge. Thanks to the app, data that once took weeks to receive is now rolling in by the minute.” - Sam Herring, Data Manager

Active case finders are operating in 6 communities and referring any ill residents to MTM’s nurse liaisons for care in clinics and screening for Ebola symptoms. They are also providing counseling and resources to 171 survivors, including Ebola orphans and children who survived the disease.

Survivors receive basic necessities and food, as well as re-entry counseling and support to overcome stigma and help them recover livelihoods.

The MTM ambulance is still operating. From December 2014 to February 2015 the ambulance transported 262 suspected Ebola patients. It will continue serving Monrovia until the epidemic is definitively over, at which point MTM will look at how it can be turned over to the community.

“The Ebola Care App allows us to respond in a much more efficient manner. Efficiency stops the spread, stopping the spread save lives.” - Sam Herring, Data Manager

From December 2014 to February 2015, MTM’s nursing team visited 2972 homes, conducting preventative health care education and reaching 14185 residents. They also treated 508 residents for common illnesses. MTM’s social work team identified 133 survivors, 145 children who became orphans as a result of Ebola, and 24 vulnerable and 6 abandoned children. The awareness team donated food and non-food items to roughly 100 homes during this time.

Other organizations with relationships to MTM heard about the success of the app, and Journey is now helping the Mayor of Paynesville to develop an app to help with an upcoming census.

“I hope every NGO responding to the Ebola crisis can get access to this app.” - Sam Herring, Data Manager

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