The Integrated Disease Surveillance Project (IDSP) was launched in India in 2004 with the overall objective to improve the timeliness and quality of the response to infectious disease outbreaks at the district level and to improve the quality of monitoring and surveillance of infectious diseases at state and national level.
The project has now been scaled up in the entire country but it has been slow in achieving its desired objectives due to lack of human resources, poor communications with the distant and remote reporting site locations, resource limitations and lack of analytical skills and capacity.
In the state of Andhra Pradesh (AP) the situation with the IDSP was not dissimilar. To address the challenges, a Short Message Service (SMS) based surveillance system was designed and piloted in 6 of AP’s 23 districts. Health workers in 3832 reporting units (hospitals and health centres) across these 6 districts began using the system to send IDSP reports in August 2008.
The SMS based surveillance system was an attempt to tackle the barriers to improving the IDSP by capitalising on the exponential growth in numbers as well as reach of mobile phones in the state. The system was scaled up in the entire state by end of the year 2009. IIPH-Hyderabad has been commissioned to undertake an evaluation of the project to assess the impact of the SMS based system on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the IDSP in the state.
The recommendations from the study will be used to scale up the system beyond the state of Andhra Pradesh to the 9 high priority states where IDSP in being funded by the World Bank.