Capacity building encompasses the development and strengthening of an organisation’s skills and resources, fostering adaptability in a swiftly changing world. We support developing autonomous skills among project collaborators across diverse domains like data science, artificial intelligence and disease modeling.
In our work in Pakistan, capacity building is a key objective for us. This region grapples with a significant burden of Tuberculosis (TB), compounded by a large number of undiagnosed cases. According to Abdullah Latif, Project Manager Digital Systems at Mercy Corps, approximately 250,000 cases slip under the radar of screening systems. While active case finding (ACF) offers promise in addressing these omissions, its execution remains resource-intensive.
Our AI-driven solution, implemented in collaboration with the Pakistan TB Control Programme, Mercy Corps and KIT - Tropical Institute Amsterdam, integrates real-time analysis of chest TB screening data and a repository of TB, demographic and epidemiological data tied to various geographic regions within Pakistan. This data aims to pinpoint TB hotspots, guiding the selection of subsequent chest camp locations. At first, site recommendations were relayed to health workers and regional coordinators. Now, owing to capacity building and knowledge transfer initiatives, coordinators autonomously access the dashboard, determining optimal chest camp locations independently.
Another facet of this empowerment initiative involves accurate mapping of chest camps. Initially, location entry errors necessitated that we entered data manually. To rectify this, we integrate the dashboard with a Google Sheets interface, facilitating precise mapping by local stakeholders. In addition, 3rd party entities like DOPASI leverage Application Programme Interfaces (APIs) to easily transmit screening and contact tracing data into our system, streamlining ground operations.
Fostering a streamlined interface To develop regional expertise and capabilities, it’s vital to build a streamlined interface to serve as a gateway for data. The interface should adhere to the following principles:
Intuitive and transparent, offering a tangible correlation between actions and outcomes - i.e. users should have the ability to input data and immediately witness its impact on the backend, eliminating the feeling of punching numbers into an invisible void.
Empowering regional stakeholders by placing control in their hands, reducing reliance on technical intermediaries.
Emphasising a user-centric interface, enabling our regional partners to comprehend cause-and-effect relationships within the toolset.
Challenges and strategies: collaborative solutions There are obviously always challenges. For example, users may experience some resistance to a new system. This could include users feeling frustrated with a screening tool that requires both paper and digital entry. Dialogue with on-the-ground workers is essential to overcome such hurdles. Imposing pre-existing solutions on operational teams can prove ineffective. Instead, co-creating solutions from scratch involving end-users, incorporating local languages in AI systems, and facilitating workshops and training sessions via various channels, from emails to video calls, become essential.
In conclusion, our framework for fostering regional capacity stands as a cornerstone of our projects. We are committed to building a collaborative ecosystem that combines expertise with technological innovation.