Morbidity management and surveillance of lymphatic filariasis disease and acute dermatolymphangioadenitis attacks using a mobile phone-based tool by community health volunteers in Ghana

by Linda Batsa Debrah, Aliyu Mohammed, Jubin Osei-Mensah, Yusif Mubarik, Olivia Agbenyega, Nana Kwame Ayisi-Boateng, Kenneth Pfarr, Janina Melanie Kuehlwein, Ute Klarmann-Schulz, Achim Hoerauf, Alexander Yaw Debrah

Morbidity burden of lymphatic filariasis (LF) relies on the information from the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programme where Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) passively report cases identified. Consequently, the exact prevalence of morbidity cases is not always accurate. The use of mobile phone technology to report morbidity cases was piloted in Ghana using a text-based short messaging service (SMS) tool by CHVs. Though successful, illiterate CHVs could not effectively use the SMS tool. The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of a mobile phone-based Interactive Voice Response System (mIVRS) by CHVs in reporting LF morbidity cases and acute dermatolymphangioadenitis (ADLA) attacks in Ghana. The mIVRS was designed as a surveillance tool to capture LF data in Kassena Nankana Districts of Ghana. One hundred CHVs were trained to identify and report lymphedema and hydrocele cases as well as ADLA attacks by calling a hotline linked to the mIVRS. The system asked a series of questions about the disease condition. The ability of the CHV to report accurately was assessed and the data from the mIVRS were compared with the paper records from the CHVs and existing MDA programme records from the same communities and period. Higher numbers of lymphedema and hydrocele cases were recorded by the CHVs using the mIVRS (n = 590 and n = 103) compared to the paper-based reporting (n = 417 and n = 76) and the MDA records (n = 154 and n = 84). Female CHVs, CHVs above 40 years, and CHVs with higher educational levels were better at paper-based reporting (P = 0.007, P = 0.001, P = 0.049 respectively). The system, when fully developed and linked to national databases, may help to overcome underreporting of morbidity cases and ADLA attacks in endemic communities. The system has the potential to be further expanded to other diseases.

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