Grantee: Gram Vaani (SnapVaxx)

Optical scanning of mother and child protection card immunization record for instant digitization

Vijay Pratap
Young mother awaits immunization with her baby, in a village in Raipur area.
UNICEF/UN0283879/LeMoyne

17 July 2019

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and UNICEF are joining forces  by accelerating Innovation for strengthening Vaccination Systems -- starting with better collection and use of critical data. UNICEF’s Innovation Fund is supporting eight grant recipients of the Gates Foundation’s Grand Challenges Explorations Round 22 with its cutting edge piloting and scaling methodologies and tools. Read more from Grant Recipient SnapVaxx, below.


 


 

In India, vaccination records tend to be recorded manually on the paper-based Mother and Child Protection cards (MCP). Not only are these cards easily lost, their paper-based nature makes the data compiling process extremely inefficient. Without timely and accurate data, vaccine supply and demand prediction suffer, leading to poorer coverage and follow-up of immunization.

Our team is building an application to scan MCP card immunization record using optical character recognition (OCR) methods. This tool will be used by frontline workers equipped with a smartphone.

Our initial efforts to plug gaps in immunization focused on disseminating information and reminders to beneficiaries to get vaccinations on time through an interactive mobile based voice platform (IVR). But upon testing and research, we realized that vaccination gaps began at the point of collecting data about the beneficiaries.

Community health workers
Gram Vaani

Solution in Action

Often, the data collected - through offline means - is not assessed efficiently or on a real-time basis.  As such, achieving improved vaccination coverage, timeliness, equity and continuity of care has become a big challenge. Our project aims to build a solution that will enable real time data entry at the point of service, which will help improve data accuracy, timeliness and completeness, which in turn could improve immunization coverage and more efficient health delivery systems.

We therefore modified our plan to try to address the problem at its roots by developing an application for optical scanning of the MCP card.  The nature of the data entry will be real time, and at the point of service, thus leapfrogging the existing approach which is based on data entry at the Primary Health Center (PHC). This will improve data accuracy, timeliness and completeness. The data will further be used for efficient supply chain monitoring, beneficiary engagement and communication.

Team & Diversity

The team comprises members from OnionDev Technologies Pvt. Ltd., (Gram Vaani), a pioneering social enterprise in the ICT4D space led by Dr. Aaditeshwar Seth, co-founder (Gram Vaani) and Associate Professor at the Dept. of CS, Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. The team also includes members from University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre (CRCHUM), Professor Mira Johri, School of Public Health who bring forth the required expertise to build this project. The team has experience in technology design and  productization, research & development, vaccination & health systems, process & impact evaluation, field testing, training and mobilization for tech adoption-- all of these forming important skill sets needed to build and scale the proposed solution.

Haat Bazar Immunization and ANC camp in Charpal near Bijapur, Chattisgarh.
UNICEF/2018/Altaf Ahmad

The Way Ahead

Over the next five years,  we foresee the optical character solution (OCR)  being integrated into the existing district level health information system across five states in India.  This data will effectively help reduce supply chain challenges, last mile immunization process planning, program implementation and vaccination coverage and effectively offer a powerful approach to monitoring and performance assessment. We also envision the expansion of the OCR application and IVR (voice) based solution to many other developing countries around the world with the help of partners.