Optimizing Pandemic Preparedness and Response through Health Information Systems: Lessons Learned from Ebola to COVID-19.
Strengthening health systems and maintaining essential service delivery during health emergencies response is critical for early detection and diagnosis, prompt treatment, and effective control of pandemics, including the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Health information systems (HIS) developed during recent Ebola outbreaks in West Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) provided opportunities to collect, analyze, and distribute data to inform both day-to-day and long-term policy decisions on outbreak preparedness. As COVID-19 continues to sweep across the globe, HIS and related technological advancements remain vital for effective and sustained data sharing, contact tracing, mapping and monitoring, community risk sensitization and engagement, preventive education, and timely preparedness and response activities. In reviewing literature of how HIS could have further supported mitigation of these Ebola outbreaks and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, three key areas were identified: governance and coordination, health systems infrastructure and resources, and community engagement. In this concept paper, we outline scalable HIS lessons from recent Ebola outbreaks and early COVID-19 responses along these three domains, synthesizing recommendations to offer clear, evidence-based approaches on how to leverage HIS to strengthen the current pandemic response and foster community health systems resilience moving forward.