When iSIKHNAS was introduced in Riau Province in 2014, the provincial office of Livestock and Animal Health Services initially only used this information system for disease reporting and case management. As more reporting features are included in iSIKHNAS, Riau Province becomes one of the most active provinces using this system, and uses almost all iSIKHNAS reporting features. The definitive diagnostic feature that allows accurate mapping of disease situations, for example, mostly originated from Riau Province, accounting for 85% of all definitive diagnoses. This impressive performance is inextricably related to the role of the iSIKHNAS coordinator in the province, drh. Ali Saukhan, who has been a provincial coordinator from the get-go, when iSIKHNAS was first introduced in Riau Province. Provincial coordinators such as him are responsible for ensuring that policy makers in their provinces understand and support the use of this information system. Before starting to work as provincial coordinators, drh. Ali Saukhan and his colleagues received a series of training to manage the system.
The interview was conducted at the end of 2018 by telephone, to find out about how Riau Province has been using iSIKHNAS to support its animal health policies.
What benefits have you obtained by using this system in your province?
What I feel as most useful is the fact that data would now be on hand to be examined further any time we need it. Also, field staff no longer need to send written reports at the end of the month. They only need to send text messages after they finish providing animal health services in the field, and this reduces the burden on field officers in preparing monthly reports.
Which data have you used?
With iSIKHNAS, we can monitor staff activities in the field through the reports they submit. Reports of disease events are automatically forwarded and can trigger a warning — especially if there is an event of dangerous disease, or one that can potentially cause an outbreak. This enables control and prevention measures to take place immediately before the disease spreads.
In addition, treatment reports can be used as a basis for planning and procuring drugs. The ability of officers in the management of disease cases can also be evaluated from the reports. For example, if we observe iSIKHNAS data, we see that some field staff still make inaccurate diagnoses, making treatments less effective. Therefore, in our 2019 budget we set aside funds for a technical training on outbreak investigations. Our leadership approve the proposal quite readily as it supported by the data that we obtain from iSIKHNAS.
iSIKHNAS data shows that Riau Province sends the highest number of confirmatory diagnosis reports. What do you do to encourage officers to consistently submit the confirmatory diagnosis reports?
In Riau Province we require that every disease report be accompanied by a definitive diagnosis, especially if it is a suspect priority disease. Operational costs are also paid on the basis of the completeness of reports, which include the confirmatory diagnosis reports.
How have the policy makers in the province been supportive of iSIKHNAS?
After we explain to them about the system, how it works and how it benefits the animal health office, our leadership has been very much supportive of iSIKHNAS. We can see this support in the policies and the allocated funds. We set aside funds for reporting activities.
What policies have been implemented to sustain the consistency of reporting?
The provincial government allocates operational reporting funds to field staff. These operational costs are paid based on staff performance, which is monitored through iSIKHNAS, to ensure that field staff send disease reports that are followed by case management and treatment reports. Payment of operational costs is calculated for each complete case reporting.
Apart from support in the form of policies and operational costs, what else encourages officers to continue using this system?
iSIKHNAS has replaced manual reporting and made it obsolete. This, in itself, is an incentive for the field officers as it lightens their burden a little bit. The phone credits are also topped up by the government. In addition to that, we still need to provide training activities, and assist and motivate them on a regular basis.
I have attended veterinary leadership training for iSIKHNAS coordinators, and the experience has helped me tremendously. I implemented the knowledge I gained through the training to motivate and encourage officers to keep using iSIKHNAS. In managing the system, we are not only dealing with technical matters, but more importantly, ensuring people see the benefits of this system and continue to use it. I hope this leadership training can be extended to iSIKHNAS district coordinators as well, as we rely on them on the field for the provision of animal health services and the use of iSIKHNAS.
Does the local government plan to extend such leadership training activities?
We will try, but for now we can only propose to hold the outbreak investigation training. Hopefully next year we can budget for this leadership training because we need it very much to support the smooth running of iSIKHNAS.
The big family of iSIKHNAS is profoundly saddened to learn about the passing of our friend, colleague, and mentor, drh. Ali Saukhan, on Monday 10 June 2019 at Ibnu Sina Hospital, Pekanbaru, Riau. We cherish the memories that we are privileged and honoured to have in working with him. May his legacy of hard work in the field of animal health live on.