Prior to 2016, the role of the private healthcare sector in supporting malaria elimination in Lao PDR was very limited, with an existing but inactive Public-Private Mix (PPM) program. In 2016, Population Services International (PSI) partnered with the national Center for Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (CMPE) to revive the program. The Greater Mekong Subregion Elimination of Malaria through Surveillance (GEMS) program, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was established to expand availability of high-quality malaria care through the private sector – particularly in higher prevalence areas that were out of reach of the public sector – and to make malaria surveillance data from the private sector available to support government decision-making.
An electronic reporting system was needed that could provide real-time data in a user-friendly, cost effective, and ultimately sustainable way. Building on previous experience, PSI implemented an evolving series of electronic surveillance solutions, with a later focus on sustainability and transition to government management.
The following four key iterations of surveillance solutions were implemented throughout GEMS (2016 – 2019) and GEMS+ (2020 – 2022):
- Malaria case surveillance app, supported by paper records
- Social media chatbot
- Government database
- Government ownership