The first case of COVID-19 was officially found in Burkina Faso on March 9, 2020, and the government quickly restricted travel to prevent the spread of the virus. This critical public health measure also kept people from important aspects of their work.
“I did not try to travel during the COVID19 restriction period but I started traveling again after the airport opened,” said Ousseni Mone, the technical director of a company based in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, who traveled at least twice a year before COVID.
Air travel opened again in August 2020 with the requirement that travelers received a negative PCR test within the previous five days. To facilitate this process, the Ministry of Health’s Department of Health Information Systems developed an application to send COVID-19 results by SMS to clients after the results were entered in the One Health Information System by a laboratory.
While his business suffered during the height of the pandemic, the new application, and its accelerated results will allow Mr. Mone to resume frequent travel.
“Before…you had to wait at least 72 hours [for the results of a COVID test]. It was a waste of time,” he said from the Thomas Sankara International Airport as he waited for a flight to Niger.
“Sending the results by SMS improves things in terms of travel because it saves time, gets results on the right date, and allows me to develop business opportunities.”
The One Health Information system was set up by MEASURE Evaluation and is being supported by the Country Health Information System and Data Use (CHISU) program. The One Health System compiles data on public health events (such as COVID-19) from the ministries of Health, Environment, and Animal Resources. The individual ministry information systems are interoperable, which allows data to be accessed by all stakeholders. CHISU is supporting the One Health System at the national level and, with other partners, supporting the ministries to expand use of the system to the site level across the country. This includes tracking disease screening, laboratory results, and contact follow-up.
Receiving SMS messages via One Health allows travelers to download their digital results securely using a QR code. This simplifies planning for trips and reduces the crowding at health facilities that occurred when people had to collect their results in person. It also reduces their transmission risk and saves time and money for a return trip to the facility to collect test results. The innovation also reduced the waiting time for results from 72 to 48 hours at most. Since January 2021, more than 60,000 travelers have received their COVID test results using the One Health system, which is almost 10 times as many as all the people who received results in 2020.
“I really appreciate the new system because the scanned QR code that accompanies it ensures the authenticity of the results,” said Mr. Mone.