Nivārana:Communicable Disease surveillance and analysis system-Features and implementation decisions

Introduction

Nivārana is a communicable disease surveillance and analysis system developed for the Epidemiology Unit (EU), Ministry of Health and Nutrition Sri Lanka by University of Colombo School of Computing (UCSC). The EU continuously monitors the occurrence of communicable diseases in the country and implements prevention and control programmes. During the year 2009 (till November) over 32000 dengue patients have been identified and 316 deaths were reported. Nivārana intends to enhance the capabilities of EU by eliminating limitations and empowering rapid response to impending outbreaks and thereby save many such innocent lives.

Objectives

Currently with the manual system, there is a significant time lag between the data collection and decision making, which is about two weeks. Project objective is to reduce this time gap to two days bounded with constrains such as cost and thereby increasing the ability to identify disease outbreaks rapidly and increase the ability to take proactive measures.

Methods

Requirements of the EU were identified. Literature survey was carried out fairly to understand what features and how the rest of the world have implemented communicable disease surveillance systems. Interviews were carried out with epidemiologists to identify features and facilities. Questionnaire was distributed among the public health officers to identify technological familiarity, features and training needs.

Results

Rapid data collection, data analysis, information presentation and quick dissemination of information were identified as the crucial features of the system that leads to rapid responses. The system design is coined by low cost, sustainability, ease of use, adaptability and extendibility, making it usable in verity of scenarios.

Conclusion

The system is designed with all the required features with a minimum implementation and running costs, which is critical for developing countries like Sri Lanka. The implementation of Nivārana no doubt will enhance the capabilities of EU and will be a life saver for many innocent people. As the name suggests, Nivārana is conceptualized with the saying “prevention is better than cure”.