Maine and Florida Technical Assistance Providers contribute to Ethiopia’s HIV case based surveillance system development

By Anne Sites March 1, 2016

An estimated 871,334 HIV-positive Ethiopians have ever enrolled in HIV care. Additionally, Addis Ababa, the largest urban center and capital city of Ethiopia, where 5.2% of the population is HIV positive, has the second highest prevalence of HIV in Ethiopia. Using existing health service data and linking the data across health facilities is an effective way to monitor health outcomes associated with HIV care and treatment. HIV case based surveillance captures and leverages patient health information that has already been collected and summarizes it at the regional and national level, providing public health practitioners with real-time, generalizable data for decision making. The Ethiopian Public Health Institute (EPHI), a division of the Federal Ministry of Health, with technical assistance from NASTAD, is currently assessing existing HIV-related service data and the collection, management and reporting processes in Ethiopia to document readiness for HIV case based surveillance.

“The best experience I’ve ever had was in Ethiopia.  It was great, thrilling and fulfilling.” Soyeon Jung

Soyeon Jung, Statistician at University of Florida,
(Center, with EPHI's Dr. Desta (R) and NASTAD's Girma Assefa (L)),
at Data Analysis Workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in December 2015

During the implementation of the HIV Case Based Surveillance Proof of Concept assessment, technical assistance providers from Maine and Florida have made important contributions, particularly in surveillance system development and data management and analysis.  In June 2015, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program hosted two delegates representing EPHI and NASTAD Ethiopia in Augusta, Maine, where they learned about mandatory reporting of infectious diseases, case reporting and investigation, and data flow and processing.  Sara Robinson, Epidemiologist with Infectious Disease Epidemiology, provided direct support to the assessment by performing analysis to assess the quality of HIV surveillance related electronic data and to test the application of case-matching algorithms and generation of pseudo unique identifiers. In December 2015, Soyeon Jung, Statistician with the University of Florida in Gainesville, participated in a Data Analysis Workshop convened by EPHI and NASTAD Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.  During her visit to Ethiopia, Soyeon worked with EPHI and NASTAD colleagues to merge results from the case-matching algorithms and pseudo unique identifiers and perform initial descriptive analysis. 

“I really enjoy being part of the Ethiopia CBS project and applying the concepts and skills I use in my everyday job in an entirely new way.  Working with our partners in Ethiopia to try and devise a system that will work for them is an exciting challenge.” Sara Robinson

In the coming months, Sara and Soyeon will continue to support the Ethiopia HIV Case Based Surveillance Proof of Concept assessment during data integration and analysis. Technical assistance will continue to be critical as the next implementation phases of the HIV case based surveillance system are planned, including expanded case report and data sharing in Addis Ababa.

If you are interested in learning more about NASTAD Ethiopia’s HIV case based surveillance work, please contact Anne Sites.

Visit to learn more about the NASTAD Global Program.

Tibebe Shenie, Country Director, Ethiopia, Global Program, and Girma Assefa Dessie, Senior Specialist, Strategic Information, Ethiopia, Global Program also contributed to the development of this blog post.