At the meeting held on 2nd February 2010 at ESA HQ Paris, Dr. Iagor Kalandadze and Dr.Ucha Nanava, from the national centre for Tuberculosis in Georgia presented the main results of the impact of the Satellites For Epidemiology project implemented by MEDES France in Georgia in the frame of the Integrated Application (IAP) Programme preparatory phase.
At present there are about 6000 tuberculosis (TB) cases per year in Georgia. The rate is about 140 per 100.000 people.
The major problem is the management of Multi-Drug Resistance tuberculosis (MDR-TB). The national centre for Tuberculosis in Georgia (TBGEO) is the head institution in the field of TB in Georgia and manages the national TB program. At regional level, there are second level institutions. Each region has 5 to 10 districts. Each district has a TB Unit where TB doctors receive and follow patients. The country includes 67 districts with their TB units. The TB surveillance network in Georgia is divided into the regions. Each region has a network of TB facilities where patients are followed by TB doctors and has a database (DB) manager who is in charge of collecting TB notifications. Before the starting of the Georgia SAtellites For Epidemiology (SAFE) project, data were entered on paper by TB doctors at local and regional levels and sent by regular mail to the National TB Centre in Tbilisi, to be entered in a desktop program and in a local database in order to generate reports for national authorities and for the World Health Organisation.
Interview with Dr. Iagor Kalandadze and Dr.Ucha Nanava from the National Center for Tuberculosis and Lung Diseases, Georgia
The aim of the project
The Georgia SAFE project, following the specific request of the TBGEO, aimed to deliver a set of services that should make more effective the TB surveillance and reporting in Georgia. The project consisted in developing, deploying and validating the system including:
- a data collection information system made of a web application to collect data directly in a digital format at a regional level;
- satellite communications connectivity to give access via internet to the relevant SAFE services in underserved areas;
- a web conferencing service to organize meetings between regions without having participants to travel long distances.
The information system was developed by MEDES and delivered to TBGEO in December 2008.
The data collection system and the satellite communication means were delivered to TBGEO between December 2008 and February 2009, with the training for the DB managers and the System Administrator. The training for 11 regional database managers started in February 2009.
The Web conferencing solution has been made available to TBGEO since beginning of December 2009 until December 2010.
The deployed system has now become the only system for TB notification in Georgia. The system is fulfilling the needs of TBGEO concerning TB and MDR-TB case notification. DB managers have adopted the system in their operational scenario. In 2009, 4446 TB cases have been entered in the system by the DB managers as of 07/12/2009. It also contains the historical TB data for 2006, 2007 and 2008. This concerns 18059 historical cases. In addition, TBGEO used the reporting functionalities of the system to process the reports to be delivered to the Georgian national authorities and to WHO about the TB cases. TBGEO will maintain this service as it has become an essential tool for the surveillance of TB and MDR-TB cases.
The satellite communication connectivity that has been set up in Abastumani enabled the centre to get access to the relevant SAFE services.
The Abastumani TB centre is located in a remote place in the mountains. Thanks to this internet access, this centre could perform TB case data collection, do web searches, access to email tools, etc, and the personnel of the centre had access to the internet.
Thanks to the SAFE project, the TB surveillance has now moved to a more integrated electronic surveillance.
Through the combination of ICT and satellite communications, the SAFE project has brought innovative solutions to support the surveillance of TB and MDR-TB cases in Georgia.
Thanks to the satellite communication means that were brought by the SAFE project, the TB centre in Abastumani was able to participate in the TB case notification process at a regional level.
The project showed finally that it was possible to do collaborative work through web conferences using satellite communications.
In an operational context, the SAFE services (satellite communication means, epidemiological data collection information system) showed to be relevant for the epidemiological surveillance.