Design of Nivārana:The power of information in prevention of epidemics

Communicable disease surveillance is an important function that is needed to control the spread of communicable diseases. The Epidemiology Unit (EU) is the principal governmental organization responsible for disease surveillance in Sri Lanka and possesses a wealth of disease related data collected over a period of several decades. Since the early detection and rapid response is the mainstay of controlling a communicable disease outbreak in a community, acquiring the ability for; collection of complete data island-wide in a timely manner, analysis of such data, and timely dissemination of analyzed data as well as guidelines on appropriate interventions will no doubt strengthen the EU’s capacity to implement disease prevention and control activities more efficiently and effectively. The software solution “Nivārana” aims to pool the information that is available through data collection and to minimize the response time by the EU and the other preventive health care institutions thereby minimizing the spread of disease. Several existing communicable disease surveillance systems were analysed to identify their capabilities and limitations. Information dissemination was identified as a completely ignored feature in existing systems as a limitation. Use of multiple data sources for better and accurate decision making was seen as an important aspect. Set of design considerations are identified to focus the design to be suitable for Sri Lanka and as well as for other developing countries. Rooted on these design considerations, the system design was carried out using object oriented concepts. The system is designed to fulfil the requirements that are set by the EU and to be configurable in division hierarchy and diseases. With the analysis capabilities and set of comprehensive reporting capabilities combined with swift information dissemination will no doubt make the public health care officers equipped with relevant, up-to-date information that could be used to control the communicable diseases.