Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health and the Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), together with the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Mastercard Foundation launched a digital service that will provide sustainable public health emergency information to the public in five different languages. The Digital Platform, 8335, developed by the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the Mastercard Foundation, provides public health emergency information such as COVID-19, yellow fever, cholera, and guinea worm and the recent outbreak of monkeypox has also been added to the information system so the public is aware and can take the necessary precautionary measures.
The platform will make significant contributions to affected areas, and displaced people in some parts of the country will receive access to important mental and psychosocial support information in an efficient manner. The capacity of the existing national public health emergency contact center has been significantly increased and during the first month of the service, a total of more than 300,000 calls have been received and more than 100,000 unique callers have been made inquiries regarding public health problems. This digital platform combines voice and text messages and reaches a large section of society, especially during urgent times when public health threats arise. This National Public Health Emergency Contact Center also provides reliable early warning information, detection, and monitoring.
This system greatly enhances the country’s current health system. The platform provides and receives public health information from the COVID-19 portal and District Health Information System 2 (DHIS-2), as well as other relevant data systems from the. The Ethiopian Public Health Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and partners, continues to improve the platform to ensure timely and reliable public health emergency information.
“The Public Health Emergency Contact Center integrates digital service provision of basic information relating to the fiver public hazards, including COVID-19 as well as receiving alerts from the public. Additionally, the information is provided in different languages making it more accessible to a larger number of the population interested in accessing these services,” said Mesay Hailu (Dr.), Director-General, EPHI. “In addition to providing health information, this digital technology responds to frequently asked questions through Interactive Voice Response (IVR). This significantly reduces the time health professionals at the contact centre would take to respond to inquiries.
The fact that the system receives and delivers messages quickly enables the provision of information to be delivered in a more efficient and simpler manner,” noted H.E Huria Ali, State Minister of Information Technology and Digital Economy, at the Ministry of Innovation and Technology. “When COVID -19 hit in 2020, the Mastercard Foundation in Ethiopia put forward various country initiatives to address the challenges posed by the pandemic. With this new digital service, the public will be able to make more informed decisions about their health. In addition, lessons learned from this digital platform and will further contribute to our digital work across various portfolios. By leveraging the power of technology, we will achieve increased efficiency and connectedness across Ethiopia,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Ethiopia at the Mastercard Foundation.