South Sudan data package to support effective and equitable Covid vaccine delivery – DirectionsMag.com

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Published September 2, 2021
As part of a drive to provide equitable access to vaccines, a consortium led by international humanitarian charity MapAction has published a package of ready-to-use essential geographic information to assist Covid-vaccine roll-out in South Sudan. This pilot initiative is designed to help identify priority population groups and plan efficient ‘last-mile’ vaccine delivery in COVAX-eligible countries. 
Labeled the Integrated Humanitarian Data Package (IHDP), this new concept aims to give quick and easy access to key geographic data that underpins the planning and delivery of vaccination programmes. The single package contains not only selected data sets, but also information explaining the data (‘metadata’), together with a set of GIS (geographic information system) and coding tools to easily develop situation-specific items such as maps and other graphics, depending on user-need. This will give organisations managing vaccine delivery in South Sudan and other vulnerable countries a running start, once vaccines become available. 

The IHDP is designed to be used by people with coordination and management responsibilities who are not experts in GIS. It provides the demographic and logistical data they need, ensuring it is of good quality and in a readily usable format. It’s also designed to reduce the time and effort needed to acquire and process data, enabling organisations to quickly understand and respond to often complex situations.

Nick McWilliam, IHDP project lead at MapAction said, “High quality mapping and data analysis are key to understanding how many people need vaccinating, where they are, and how and where the vaccines can be safely stored and delivered. We know that access to good data is a major issue in many countries. Even where data exists, it’s frequently patchy and not in a format that is usable by most people, as well as lacking crucial information about the local context. The IHDP concept is intended to remove barriers to good information that are otherwise likely to hinder vaccine delivery.” 
The project has drawn on a partnership of specialist agencies to help design and add data to the IHDP. The participation of CartONG, OpenMap Development Tanzania, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Afrimapr/School of Tropical Medicine and MapAction has been supported by grants from the Calleva Foundation. Mapbox and Esri have also been providing advice and services to the project.
South Sudan was chosen for the pilot because of its COVAX allocation in the first half of 2021 (projected to increase through the year and into 2022), a context of acute humanitarian needs and known challenges in demographic, health infrastructure, and logistics data. MapAction is directly engaging with agencies in South Sudan involved in vaccine delivery to ensure they are aware of the availability of the IHDP.
Although the pilot project has focused on creating an IHDP for South Sudan, the lessons learned are applicable across many other countries eligible for COVAX vaccines. The IHDP is designed to help in situations where data on populations to be vaccinated, healthcare facilities, and transport infrastructure is often too poor for effective logistics and where there are acute humanitarian needs, hard to reach populations or weak national health systems.  
The South Sudan IHDP is freely accessible via MapAction’s map and data repository and The Africa GeoPortal. It is also being shared with the humanitarian community and international agencies involved in Covid-19 vaccine roll-out.

About MapAction
MapAction is a humanitarian mapping charity that works through skilled volunteers. Its mission is to save lives and alleviate suffering by facilitating the use of maps and data in intelligent ways to assist all aspects of humanitarian work, including preparedness, anticipatory action and emergency response. 

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