Digital Innovation at CDC Cambodia

At the Communicable Disease Control Cambodia (CDC Cambodia), various innovative digital tools have been implemented into processes to prevent disease outbreaks around the country. CDC Cambodia is responsible for recording all the diseases that could potentially affect public health throughout the day, 7 days a week. These diseases range from small scale outbreaks to a pandemic.

Dr. Ly Sovann, director of CDC, was the one who spearheaded the use of innovative, digital, disease detection tools while collecting and disseminating health related information. One such idea was introducing a CDC hotline where citizens could simply call to report a case at their convenience. An added benefit of having digital data, was that the critical health information collated on databases and computer systems, could be easily shared as a platform to various institutions, giving them access to the latest updates.

In comparison, although most countries also adopt a data-reporting system to moniter disease outbreaks,­ they do this through paper-based reports or through fax. Hence, the information received still have to be analysed which would take extra time to detect certain issues. With the introduction of such digital tools at CDC by InSTEDD, the time taken to collect and process the data will be significantly reduced, allowing them to be updated about the latest happenings in real time. In a situation where anticipating the outbreak of viruses is extremely important, these tools allow the CDC to always be one step ahead before the virus starts to spread or mutate. An example of a time sensitive virus would be Avian Influenza, where immediate action has to be taken to prevent human and poultry casualties.

More than just introducing digital tools to the CDC,  InSTEDD has also helped the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance (MBDS) as a whole to improve their processes of reporting critical health data. The MBDS is a regional collaboration between Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and the southern provinces of China, with the aim of regularly sharing key updates related to disease outbreaks in their region in order to prevent them from spreading.

Thus, for a more efficient exchange of information, the GeoChat technology was introduced. Through this technology, grassroots are able to send critical information to top-tier officials and to those directly involved. Stated as one of the most useful software introduced to the CDC, it played an important role in fighting the rampent cholera cases in 2009. While most doctors were treating cholera with drugs such as tetracycline and doxycycline, it was discovered after a study conducted by CDC, that ampilicin and ciprofloxacin were more effective drugs. This piece of critical information was then shared via GeoChat and within a day, the practice to treat Cholera was changed nationwide. This proved that GeoChat was a fast, cheap and efficient method to disseminate information as compared to couriering the information, which could have cost lives.

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Article adapted from InSTEDD

Edited by Deborah Chen