DATA FOR DEVELOPMENT
YEAR STARTED: 2017
Big data for development:
A study in how new data sources optimized health facility placement and emergency response efforts for COVID-19 in Malawi
- Malawi’s population is growing, especially in cities. Many people do not have access to primary health care facilities. People move because of floods and droughts. The rapid population growth and seasonal population movements shift the health care needs between locations, causing certain population segments to live further from health facilities.
- The Malawi government has found it difficult to determine how the COVID-19 pandemic could potentially unfold and which areas or populations could be at risk.
- Use of new data sources and models for decision-making is yet to be institutionalized beyond the health sector.
The Ministry of Health is currently using the health facility placement optimization model built on this project to inform the deployment of more than 900 new health posts across the country between 2018 to 2023. The model will ensure that more than 95% of Malawians live within a five km radius of a health facility.
We compared population projections using WorldPop and our MNO data model to the 2018 country census at the district level and found a less than 5% discrepancy.
The epidemiological data models built in response to the COVID-19 pandemic have empowered decision-makers with refined epidemic scenarios by making epidemiological and risk models more accurate.
The data models have uncovered potential epidemiological patterns by identifying potential hotspots and disease spread patterns that could be investigated and, if confirmed, addressed.
There has been reduced response time to the COVID-19 pandemic because of the use of real-time data.
There is demand for use of MNO data in combination with other data sources to answer key development questions in other sectors beyond health, such as education, agriculture, water, and sanitation, through the institutionalization of the data models within the National Statistical Office.
There has been demand to replicate the data models built in Malawi in other individual countries and regional country blocks. For example, our implementing partner Cooper/Smith has since replicated some of the epidemiological and risk models built in Malawi in Burkina Faso and is seeking to replicate them for the 14 countries in the West Africa Health Organisation.
WATCH: OUR DATA WORK IN MALAWI
It is imperative to work with local stakeholders in building the data management capacity at a governmental agency to provide ministries with MNO data analytics if routine use of such data is to be sustained.
Setting up a co-creation value model with MNOs to enable the continuous and sustainable sharing of analytics from MNOs is key.
DIAL convened a diverse range of stakeholders, including donors, multilaterals, NGOs, and the government, to undertake the Malawi data demonstration model.