As we are reflecting on the first ICT4D for Malaria Elimination conference, here are three takeaways that you can apply to your everyday work.
Technology is only as good as the people who operate it. In this light, there is a high need for the digital empowerment of governments and community health workers (CHWs). Governments should place digital capacity building at the center of their work and should prioritize empowering CHWs with technology and digital skills which will be beneficial not only to malaria but other health programs and emergencies. Currently, many CHWs work with many different digital technologies, and it will be more efficient to simplify these tools by making use of what they already have access to, like social media platforms and messaging applications.
The use of technology provides more, different, and better data which aids in understanding the real coverage of campaigns, allows for adaptive management, helps minimize fraud and maximize impact, while also generating broader opportunities. For example, digitizing mass malaria campaigns has enabled data to be used in real time to plan and monitor activities during the campaign.
However, the benefits of digitization grow at the system level and build over time, so individual stakeholders often initially undervalue the benefit to investment ratio. Hence government stakeholders need to be knowledgeable of what data is available and what value it brings during the campaign process.
Country or government-led designing of digital solutions, and alongside end-users, is critical for sustainable ICT4D approaches. Local leadership is key, and there is a need to strengthen existing local systems and avoid building parallel systems which are complex and difficult to maintain.
Choosing the right technology for the specific context will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of malaria programs. Interoperability of technologies should be considered to streamline the managing, receiving, and sending of updated data which can aid in receiving rapid updates of key populations at higher risk of malaria in various countries.
Watch the short summary from CRS of the ICT4D & Malaria conference in April 2022:
The conference focused on how digital technology can increase the quality, equity, reach, and impact for malaria programming. During the two-day event, 50 speakers from five continents and over 400 live participants exchanged knowledge, best practices and innovations. The event was organized by CRS and ICT4D Conference in partnership with AMP, Akros, BlueSquare, Dimagi, MMV, TDR at WHO, AMP and with support and advice from PATH, PSI, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Global Fund, UNICEF.
All the conference session recordings are available in English and French language. Choose your session and sign-in, or click the video links in the session description without registration.