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Tony Blair Institute and Oracle combine to launch cloud-based vaccine management in Africa

The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and Oracle have combined to launch a vaccine management programme in several African countries

The Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and Oracle have joined forces to launch a vaccine management programme in parts of Africa.

According to a statement from the think tank and the enterprise software supplier,  Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone will use an Oracle Health Management System to create electronic health records for vaccination programmes for yellow fever, HPV, polio, measles and Covid-19.

Ghana: digitising health systems

Ghana president Nana Akufo-Addo said in the statement from the TBI and Oracle: “We have learned many lessons from this pandemic. The most obvious is that we have to urgently fortify our public health systems. This strategic partnership with Oracle and TBI is evidence of our drive to digitalise Ghana’s health systems for our people’s benefit.”

Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, a doctor working on the Expanded Programme on Immunisation (EPI) at Ghana Health Service, added: “The move from Ghana’s current paper-based vaccination campaign records to digital data management using the Oracle platform will enable our data to be easily accessible by authorised persons. The data will be more secure, and there will be no worry about lost cards as people travel.”

Rwanda: plans immunity pass

Rwanda is said to have prepared its system to support its HPV vaccine administration as soon as secondary schools reopen, with plans to support Covid-19 vaccinations and an immunity pass for citizens in the future.

The president of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, called for a resilient health system as the best defence against future pandemics: “A Covid-19 vaccine will be a critical tool, and Africa must be able to access to its fair share of a vaccine once it is available.

“This partnership will deliver an innovative digital vaccine e-registry that signals the continent’s readiness to deploy the vaccine and to safely reopen our economies to trade and tourism.” 

Sierra Leone: plans vaccination digital records

Sierra Leone is reported to be preparing to use the system to create digital vaccination records when its next routine EPI campaign begins. EPI is a global initiative to vaccinate for polio, diphtheria, tuberculosis, pertussis, measles and tetanus. It is estimated to prevent two to three million childhood deaths globally each year from these diseases.

The chief innovation officer and minister of education of Sierra Leone, David Moinina Sengeh, said: “The government of Sierra Leone is committed to utilising technology and innovation – digitising services to improve service delivery for its citizens. Using our experience from Ebola, we were able to put together a robust National Covid-19 Response plan, which has technology, data, and innovation as core enablers.

“This collaboration with Oracle and TBI is significant not only for dealing with Covid-19 and broader health needs, such as EPI vaccinations but will be a key step in our country’s mission of digitisation for all.” 

The TBI and Oracle are said to be in discussions with more than thirty other countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and North America that are evaluating using the same cloud system to manage their Covid-19 vaccination programs.   

Tony Blair said in the statement: “This is an immensely exciting and potentially ground-breaking initiative for recording information on all disease vaccinations and treatments in African nations.

“Though Africa has coped well with Covid-19, it still needs to be part of international efforts to control the disease, including for international travel. That means vaccination of at least a significant portion of the population, requiring the highest quality data system so that everyone’s vaccine experience is recorded. Oracle can provide that system with data securely stored and owned by each country and is prepared to do so as part of a global philanthropic partnership. 

“We will be living with Covid-19 for some years, and the recording of data will be vital in managing its impact and spread. And one thing is clear from this crisis: applying new technology solutions has applications for the digitisation of the entire economy and is crucial for the acceleration of African development. This initiative is a great test case, and my Institute is proud to be part of it.”  

John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, said: “Since February of this year, the Africa Union and member states have worked tirelessly together to address the impact of Covid-19 on the continent.

“As the pandemic continues, partnerships such as this one are critical to the strengthening of member state public health institutions, not only to incorporate innovative technology, but to proactively and urgently harmonise the collection and sharing of important testing data across the continent.”

The TBI is said to have partnered with Oracle to deliver cloud technology to digitise and unify national health data, starting with the management of vaccinations. The Oracle Health Management System creates an electronic health record in a cloud database for every person as they are vaccinated.

Oracle chairman and CTO Larry Ellison added: “The Oracle Health Management System is currently being used by the US government and large healthcare and research organisations to monitor Covid-19 patient symptoms, responses to treatments, and to screen volunteers for Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials.

“By working with Tony Blair and his team over a period of a few months, we were able to deliver the exact same 21st century cloud technology to Ghana, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone. This is the first time vaccine data has been stored in a cloud database on a national scale. Africa is leading the way.” 

Participating countries will have access and support for the system, free of charge, for the next 10 years, according to the statement.

Once the Covid-19 vaccine is available, the system will track immunisations and provide recipients with a Digital Quick Response (QR) code.

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