The global COVID 19 pandemic has drawn attention to the importance of rapid and digital approaches to health challenges. Especially in countries of the Global South, where insufficient infrastructure and lack of digital expertise complicate the situation, this need is becoming increasingly clear.
The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Digital Square at PATH, through the Digital Innovation in Pandemic Control (DIPC) project, are working together with ministries of health and other stakeholders in Ghana, Malawi, and Tanzania to develop pandemic-prepared immunization systems by leveraging expertise to improve and develop digital tools. This collaboration seeks to scale up the use of digital tools for COVID-19 and routine vaccination planning, deployment, and monitoring.
Mapping the digital immunization ecosystem
In collaboration with the Government of Tanzania, Digital Square analyzed Tanzania’s existing immunization ecosystem to identify gaps, challenges, and opportunities for strengthening digital immunization systems in Tanzania. By reviewing health and digital governance documents and consulting with key stakeholders, Digital Square gathered valuable insights to produce a comprehensive country profile. This profile is a resource for Tanzania’s Ministry of Health (MOH) and other stakeholders to help inform the development and operationalization of interoperable digital solutions to support immunization.
Main DIPC project activities in Tanzania
Based on the findings from the ecosystem mapping, DIPC and the Ministry of Health (MOH) is acting to enhance Tanzania’s digital health immunization systems by:
1. Reviewing and standardizing workflows: Workflows can be defined “as a process involving a series of tasks performed by various people within and between work environments to deliver care1.” This thorough review and standardization of end-to-end immunization workflows, processes, data standards, business logic, and requirements (See figure 1) will help effectively strengthen and scale digital tools for immunization.
2. Mapping existing digital tools: Three existing digital tools for immunization in Tanzania were mapped: Tanzania Immunization Registry (TImR), COVID-19 Vaccination Management System (Chanjo COVID), and the Vaccine Information Management System (VIMS). The next step is to map these tools against a standard set of requirements to identify gaps and areas for improvement.
3. Facilitating secure information exchange: The DIPC project will upgrade the current electronic immunization registry (i.e., TImR) so that it can securely exchange information with other digital systems in the digital health architecture framework, such as District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2). This will increase data utilization to improve immunization service delivery such as enabling health workers to better plan for vaccine supply chain and delivery (e.g., reduce stockouts of life-saving medicines).
4. Strengthening capacity: To ensure the sustainability of digital health solutions, The DIPC project aims to bolster the capacity of local technical teams to effectively own and manage the digital tools by mentoring and training them. For example, DIPC is partnering with local technical teams to integrate World Health Organization (WHO) and MOH guidelines and recommendations using the WHO’s standards-based, machine-readable, adaptive, requirements-based, and testable (SMART) Guidelines approach into TImR.
The DIPC project is making significant strides to strengthen digital health systems for immunization (e.g., TImR) in Tanzania. DIPC is paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable digital health ecosystem through comprehensive mapping, analysis, and stakeholder engagement. As the DIPC project progresses, its impact will extend beyond Tanzania, benefiting other countries involved, like Ghana and Malawi. By harnessing the power of digital tools and collaborative efforts, we can create a future where robust and interconnected digital health systems support pandemic control and immunization.
 Davis MM, Gunn R, Cifuentes M, Khatri P, Hall J, Gilchrist E, Peek CJ, Klowden M, Lazarus JA, Miller BF, Cohen DJ. Clinical Workflows and the Associated Tasks and Behaviors to Support Delivery of Integrated Behavioral Health and Primary Care. J Ambul Care Manage. 2019 Jan/Mar;42(1):51-65. doi: 10.1097/JAC.0000000000000257. PMID: 30499901; PMCID: PMC6278604.