Fionet Helps Colombian Health Initiative Win 'Malaria Champion of the Americas'

16 Jan 2014
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With the help of Fionet—Fio Corporation's cloud-based solution for infectious disease management—Proyecto Malaria Colombia (PMC) received the top 2013 “Malaria Champions of the Americas” award, given annually to organizations demonstrating best practices in malaria prevention and control. PMC is a joint health initiative administered by Colombia’s state agency for development, FONADE, and the Fundación Universidad de Antioquia.

"Fionet played a valuable role in our success story," said Andrés Oyola, Project Manager PMC-FONADE. “The service was not only aligned with the overall strategy to bring innovation into our program, but also proved to be integral to helping PMC meet its objectives of improving the diagnosis, treatment, and reporting of malaria cases.”

Managed by a collective of public and private organizations, with financial assistance from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, PMC emerged in 2010 to complement the Colombian Ministry of Health’s activities to control malaria. That year Colombia reported more than 115,000 malaria cases, with more than 70 per cent originating in the 45 municipalities where PMC now operates. By 2012, the country’s total number of reported cases fell by nearly half, largely due to the work of PMC, which was assisted by Fionet, Fio Corporation's integrated mobile diagnostic and information management service.

“Fionet’s mobile devices served a dual role as helpful diagnostic tools and reliable surveillance units,” said Mr. Oyola. "This has strengthened PMC’s capabilities to remotely manage health worker activity and make better informed resource allocation decisions."

Fionet facilitated PMC’s key achievement of creating sustainable local capacity by training community health workers in malaria prevention and control. By subscribing to Fionet, PMC received mobile phones equipped with Deki software, which helped health workers better manage patient flow and document microscopy-based malaria testing. PMC also received Deki Readers, which are rugged in-vitro diagnostic devices that provide step-by-step guidance for processing and interpreting rapid diagnostic tests with expert-level accuracy. All diagnostic activities aided by these Deki smart devices were automatically recorded to Fionet’s cloud database. This gave PMC administrators real-time web access to the information they needed to improve health worker performance, case management and reporting. Fionet also allowed PMC to easily transfer data to SIVIGILA, Colombia’s national epidemiologic surveillance system.

Fionet helped PMC test and track positive cases of malaria, as well as negative diagnostic test results. PMC also used Fionet to monitor adherence to case management protocols with unprecedented accuracy. The high-quality, timely information gathered using Fionet was especially valuable for PMC during the project’s data quality audit performed by the Global Fund.

The "Malaria Champions of the Americas" awards are presented annually by the Pan American Health Organization, the Pan American Health and Education Foundation, the Center for Global Health at the George Washington University, and other partners. The awards honour innovative efforts in the Americas that have significantly contributed towards overcoming the challenges of malaria and have served as an inspiration in the global battle against the disease.

PMC’s use of Fionet has strengthened the project’s potential to have a lasting impact on malaria for years to come in Colombia—an area with the highest disease burden in the Americas after Brazil, with 24 per cent of the population being at risk of infection.

"Fionet has shown great potential to address other public health problems," said Mr. Oyola. "With help from this innovative technology, PMC has built technical capacity in the field so that health personnel are qualified enough to carry out intelligent active surveillance."

PMC continues to use and expand use of Fionet to improve malaria diagnosis, clinical workflow and crucial information recording and tracking.

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Sonia Nicholas
Clinical Diagnostics Editor