With approximately 555 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in Lagos every year and even more perinatal deaths, it is vital facilities and health authorities understand the underlying factors contributing to these deaths to prevent similar deaths happening in the future. Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response is the mechanism that does this. A continuous cycle of identification, notification, and review, the system places an emphasis on follow up actions to improve quality of care and reduce mortality.
Today, Lagos State launches a new app for notifying and reviewing maternal and perinatal deaths. Following a pilot phase in 2017-2018, the new app will run on tablets provided to facilities with an online “live” dashboard that allows users to analyse data across participating facilities. This intervention has the power to simplify workloads and improve data accuracy and availability, thereby leading to more evidence-based decision-making.
Here, Dr. Victoria Omoera, the State Coordinator of Maternal and Perinatal Death Surveillance and Response in Lagos, discusses some of her hopes and expectations of what this new app will mean for the state.
Q. What does digital MPDSR mean for Lagos?
Before digitisation, we worked with paper forms, hence, transfer of data from health facilities and local governments was done manually. The introduction of the app simplified this process – all the health facility staff had to do is upload the data on their tablets and we could view the data in the state MPDSR office. The app made it easy and possible to capture all the data in one place and observe it on the dashboard. We could finally view raw data [in one place] as opposed to having loads of paper-based forms which made review difficult. Sometimes it could take a facility up to a month to send forms – it was a cumbersome process.
Anything that is computerized is faster; we now have an efficient way of accessing and analysing the MPDSR data, so definitely it was a world of improvement in comparison to the basic collection process.
Q. How does digitisation contribute to the response component of MPDSR?
With the paper-based system, there were some items or indicators which officers at the health facilities omitted or left blank. With the computerized process, the data prompt does not allow the user to proceed without the input of compulsory information. Obviously, the more information we have available, the better reviews of data we will do and the more appropriate responses we will take to mitigate future deaths.
Q. MPDSR has been digitized in Lagos for a while now, what do you think this new App will bring to the table that wasn’t there before?
In every system, you want to do better, you want an improvement of the process for better results and to have a simple and easily accessible platform. The last App gave us a good platform, but we realized there were limitations with the functionalities: we could not send emails or print out data and our analysis functions were limited. This new app aligns us with the DHIS system and provides more data analysis options.
Q. What is your hope for the impact of the digitized MPDSR system?
Now that we have concluded the training process, the officers who will input the data have seen first-hand what could be done with quality data. It’s one thing to say you generated the data, but it’s also important for you to be able to use your own data for decision making and response. That’s what we hope to see with this new app. And for us at the state level, it is crucial to access the data in real time without certain delays associated with the submission of paper forms.
Every time a notification is uploaded, everyone gets the information as quickly as possible. As soon as a death occurs in the health facility, we get notified- this way we keep track of things before the overall data comes in at the end of the month. It makes the response system faster, prepares us ahead of time on what to do and so makes it much easier to conduct reviews as quickly as possible.