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An electronic decision support system (DSS) for frontline healthcare providers

THE CHALLENGE

Despite improvements in vaccine coverage over the past decade, globally 18.7 million children (one in five) remain unvaccinated. Pakistan is one of the countries struggling with low immunization coverage, as only 43% of children complete vaccinations up to first dose of measles. In addition to poor coverage, delays in receiving vaccinations is another major concern. Once a child misses an immunization visit, following vaccines are also often delayed. The problem is often exacerbated when frontline health workers have to manually generate catch-up vaccine schedules on the basis of child’s age and vaccine history, and commit errors.  Moreover, the addition of new vaccines to the immunization schedule further complicates the process. 

OUR APPROACH

To overcome this problem, we have developed an electronic Decision Support System (DSS) Application Programming Interface (API), in collaboration with Interactive Health Solutions (IHS), that automatically constructs catch-up vaccine schedules based on a child’s vaccination history and current age. The application is programmed to reformulate the child’s immunization schedule at every visit and adjust for missed appointments and delayed vaccinations. The project is currently being implemented at selected immunization centers governed by Expanded Programme on Immunizations (EPI), Health Department, Government of Sindh. We are confident that this technology will enhance immunization coverage and timeliness outcomes through providing frontline health care providers a tool which automatically generates catch-up vaccine schedule for children visiting the center.