A digital device at Tembisa provincial tertiary hospital that records the number of patients that have visited the hospital. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
A digital device at Tembisa provincial tertiary hospital that records the number of patients that have visited the hospital. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

South Africa’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout will be ’paperless’

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Jan 19, 2021

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Cape Town - South Africa will ditch the paper system when it comes to the management and monitoring of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The Electronic Vaccination Data System (EVDS) is expected to go live, in tandem with the vaccine roll out early next month.

According to Dr Anban Pillay, deputy director-general (DDG) at the Department of Health, the system will also be used for tracking the vaccines and the vehicles moving them through.

How will it work

The system creates an electronic health record that will support the collection and provision of information such as patient demographics, the number of doses taken, the health establishment where this happened, vaccine administered, any adverse events that occurred, and a record of vaccination issued to individuals.

The system support collection and provision of the following information:

• Patient information including demographics

• Health establishment where service is accessible (name and type, e.g. clinic)

• Vaccine administered (manufacturer, batch number, etc.)

• Safety information as part of a pharmacovigilance plan (Adverse Events Following Immunisation – AEFI)

• A record of vaccination issued to individuals where appropriate and required.

Is there a need for the system

Pillay says the system will be used to avail data needed for monitoring vaccine uptake and coverage, prioritisation of the groups, planning, safety monitoring and vaccine effectiveness.

“We have learnt from the distribution in other countries that the safety and theft of vaccines is a problem. There’ll be a track and trace of vaccines using barcode scanning as well as the safe and secure disposal of these packaging, vials and data verification linked to the volumes that have been submitted,” he said.

Who is developing it

While the government is yet to announce who is developing the system, there’s a strong indication that the system will be developed by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and Oracle.

Both organisations have already partnered with several other African governments and are in discussions with more than thirty other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America that are evaluating using the same cloud system to manage their Covid-19 vaccination programs through the Oracle Health Management System.

The system is currently being used by the US government and large healthcare and research organisations to monitor Covid-19 patient symptoms, responses to treatments, and to screen volunteers for Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials.,

How is it implemented by others

In Ghana, the system is used to manage its yellow fever vaccine programme and will follow with Covid-19 once that vaccine is distributed in Africa.

“The move from Ghana’s current paper-based vaccination campaign records to digital data management using the Oracle platform will enable our data to be easily accessible by authorized persons.

’’The data will be more secure, and there will be no worry about lost cards as people travel,” said Dr Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, Expanded Programme on Immunization, Ghana Health Service.

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