Mass vaccination campaign receives vital IT boost

Photo: (l-r) MCIT Management Team – Letoa Matini Faasino, Suetena Loia, Lydia Lemalu & CEO Fualau Talatalaga Mata’u receiving the donation from UNDP’s Resident Representative, Jorn Sorensen, UNDP Deputy RR, Verena Linneweber, UN Resident Coordinator, Simona Marinescu & UNDP Consultant for the Measles Response, Salã Georgina Bonin.



APIA, SAMOA – 23 DECEMBER 2019:  The bid to achieve country-wide coverage for the measles mass vaccination campaign has received a much-needed boost, in the form of Information Technology equipment that will be used in district hospitals.

Fifteen laptops and 15 webcams were today handed over to the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology as part of the Government’s Digital Transformation programme, to be placed in each district hospital. Training on how staff can best use this equipment will also be provided.

“With our resilient ICT infrastructure and high speed connectivity over the Samoa National Broadband Highway Network (SNBH), these equipment will enable live medical consultations between the district hospitals and medical centers to the main hospitals at Moto’otua and Tuasivi; consultation on emergency measles cases; live urgent medical video conferencing from all sites; concurrent online meetings; and also at this time of emergency, the Prime Minister, Ministers and leaders could broadcast a live message or word of encouragement to all the workers and employees at all Health Clinics,” said Afamasaga Lepuia’i Rico Tupa’i, Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

The equipment, including software and costs for an IT consultant, were provided by the United Nations Development Programme, under the United Nations’ Central Emergency Relief Fund, CERF. The international funding request as part of the CERF Appeal was headed by the UN Resident Coordinator as well as providing continuous coordination of the relief efforts.

“The United Nations  team in consultation with the Government of Samoa identified a series of gaps that the health system must address to prevent outbreaks in the future and make sure people have access to medical information when they need it,” said Simona Marinescu, UN Resident Coordinator.

“Among such needs, real-time tracking of immunization to help families to follow the routine vaccination schedule and keep their children away from health risks in the future is critical. UNDP’s immediate action to provide IT equipment to district hospitals will strengthen vaccination monitoring capacity and will build medical history for each and everyone in the country. Accurate and timely available data on vaccination saves lives,” she said.

“I believe that the capability of the district hospitals and clinics to give accurate and timely, life-saving treatment to their patients will depend on having these equipment on hand, and I am very pleased that UNDP has been able to provide this assistance to the Ministry of Health through MCIT,” said Jorn Sorensen, UNDP’s Resident Representative.

CEO Fualau Talatalaga Mata’u receiving the donation from UNDP’s Resident Representative, Jorn Sorensen and UN Resident Coordinator, Simona Marinescu.

There are about 13 district hospitals and medical centres servicing remote areas around Samoa. Unlike the main hospitals at Moto’otua and Tuasivi, they don’t have regular access to doctors and medical staff. This has been identified by the government as a hindrance to the accurate and timely diagnosis of patients arriving at the facilities.

There are not enough doctors to be present at every site, so the nurses are the only ones dealing with the public on a daily basis, hence the need to enable them to connect the patient to a doctor in the main hospital so that an assessment and diagnosis can be made.

Using Samoa’s National Broadband Highway, the nurses will be able to focus a camera on the patient at the district hospital for the doctor at Moto’otua or Tuasivi to see and talk to them in real time.  The faster connection via Fiber Optic and LTE connection over the SNBH would help facilitate an accurate diagnosis.

The number of cases that were presented at remote district hospitals with measles symptoms during the ongoing measles outbreak, where there was no IT equipment to enable this crucial interaction to happen, prompted a request from the Government to UNDP for assistance.

The new IT equipment will also help decentralize digitization of vaccination records in each district hospital to reduce the burden at the TTM Hospital, Moto’otua where currently all paperwork is being processed. The Web-Based Realtime Database System that this equipment will enable will improve monitoring of immunization within Samoa’s Mass Vaccination Campaign and prepare medical history data to be integrated in the e-Health Project.