A system to operate in any environment
The Gavi Alliance has so far secured over $7.2 billion in funding for immunisation programmes around the world, over its 10 years of existence. We needed a system that would work across tough environments that have variable connectivity.
Gavi (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and
Immunisation) began with a $750 million cash injection from Bill and Melinda
Gates, who were keen to see real innovation in how life-saving vaccines could
be effectively provided to those who need them most, but cannot afford them. We
work to organise and guarantee the funding from our donors in the public and
private sectors, as well as to negotiate prices with the manufacturers and to
organise the provision of immunisation to different countries. We also aim to
immunise an additional 250 million children, and help save four million lives
local and central challenges
But in spite of our huge mandate, and the
high value of immunisations that we have provided, as an organisation we only have around 200 employees. We also work with countries where many of the
organisations we deal with only have very low or intermittent Internet
connectivity. Handling all of the information and providing it in these
circumstances can be a challenge.
Originally, like many other charitable
organisations coordinating global efforts, we dealt principally in a variety of
forms being e-mailed back and forth. These forms included applications by
countries for us to provide immunisation, progress reports, and financial data.
Tracking the data and communicating it as required was difficult.
Two years ago, we totally overhauled the
system to create consistency and simplicity. We now have what we call our
Online Country Portal, which allows health mangers in the countries we work
with to easily enter their data in a consistent format. The system also makes
it easy for us to query any points and receive answers. Data is typically
entered by health managers who handle their country's involvement in the World
Health Organisation's Expanded Programme on Immunisation.
We started by piloting the system in four
countries: Laos, Rwanda, Vietnam and Bangladesh. As an example of the
challenges we faced, the entire office in Laos had only 128 kbps connectivity
with frequent outages. From the pilot, we learned to create forms that were
broken down into small chunks, so that those inputting the data would see their
information saved regularly in case of a loss of connectivity (having a large
form only made it harder to save files on poor connections).
All of the countries we work with now use the
system. We did inform everyone that if they have particular challenges with the
system they could simply use the original document forms, but everyone is
finding it easier to use the new system - we have had a 100 per cent take-up.
The online country portal also makes our
central operations easier. By collecting the data in a consistent format, we
will be able to do better benchmarking and make quicker, effective decisions.
We are really going to focus on our internal data warehouse and how we analyse
the information. We want to make sure we're hitting goals in terms of vaccine
delivery, health levels in the countries we help, finance, and a number of
other areas. We are also going to improve how we draw data into the system from
our government, private sector and not-for-profit partners.