Transforming Health Data into Action for Emergency Responses
A rapid health assessment application helps health workers quickly identify the needs of the most vulnerable in emergencies.
As one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries, Indonesia needs to race against time during emergency responses. The challenges of having a large population that spreads across the archipelago’s difficult terrains and lacking sufficient real-time information often poses problems in delivering help to those most in need in times of crises.
To speed up initial emergency responses, the Health Crisis Centre of the Ministry of Health has worked closely with UNICEF to develop a rapid health assessment application (RHA). The digital application – which replaces a paper-based system – aims to rapidly identify and respond to the health needs of the most vulnerable during the early stages of an emergency response.
The application is intended primarily for local district and provincial health workers to record and report relevant data during disasters or emergencies, including outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic. This real-time data on vulnerable groups of affected populations, required resources and other logistic needs can be used immediately by both national and subnational governments to make informed decisions and mitigate risks early on.
“The application is exactly what we have always needed, compared to the manual, paper-form RHA we have been using so far,” said Rini Supardan, a health crisis analyst from the Riau Provincial Health Office. “We can access the application on our mobile phones, so I can imagine that many more people will be greatly helped thanks to this rapid assessment.”
Riau province faced one of its worst forest fires in 2018 and 2019. Rini recalled how the limited up-to-date and well-archived data due to manual reporting made it difficult to serve those most at risk, particularly mothers and children, in a timely manner.
She was relieved to learn about the application during a workshop in August 2022. The workshop was one of four held by the Health Crisis Centre this year in West Java to introduce the application to health staff across the country.
In opening the workshops, Dr. Eka Jusup Singka, then the head of the Health Crisis Centre, emphasized the need for rapid health assessments to identify hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities of affected populations that can be mobilized.
“Rapid health assessments are the key to emergency response,” he said.
Three RHA workshops are being held in 2022, with 164 health staff participating from 130 district health offices and 34 provincial health offices.
The RHA application is part of Indonesia’s efforts to achieve equitable digital transformation, one of the country’s main priorities as it chairs the G20 this year. A digital shift will support communities and health workers to better and more quickly protect the country’s 270 million people, especially when mere seconds are critical to save lives.
UNICEF Indonesia is grateful for the support received from key partners, including, the Governments of Australia, and United States of America and KOICA (Korea International Cooperation Agency).