The UAE has set ambitious targets for COVID-19 vaccinations. Thanks to the ‘Choose to Vaccinate’ campaign, the country is among the leading countries in the world in terms of vaccination rates, with over 11 million doses administered so far.
In Abu Dhabi, the response to the pandemic has been exemplary from the beginning. As recently recognised by an independent survey by London-based Deep Knowledge Group, which assessed the COVID-19 response of cities around the world, analysts ranked the Emirate on top. Against more than 50 parameters, including vaccination and testing rates, Abu Dhabi led the world with a robust and rapid response that helped protect the health and safety of the community. Mass testing centres, field hospitals, and drive-through facilities were established immediately to help contain the virus. The UAE Government took the strategic decision early on to secure vaccinations for residents as soon as possible, and the Ministry of Health and Prevention was among the first regulators globally to approve vaccines for emergency use. It then established vaccination stations in existing healthcare facilities and purpose-built facilities around the country to ensure that supply of vaccinations would meet the demand.
The country now has a vaccine distribution rate of 115.75 per 100 people. From regulatory approvals to managing a supply chain, from setting up field centres to mass communications campaigns – all at record scale and speed – the logistical complexity of rolling out such a vaccination programme at a national level successfully, is immense.
Malaffi, the established Health Information Exchange, has been an integral part of the Emirate’s pandemic response. Connecting electronic medical records to centralise patient information, the platform created a database of COVID-19 test results in the Emirate – a staggering 29,401,060 million tests to date. As part of the National Vaccination Program, Malaffi enables frontline healthcare workers and health authorities to manage patient vaccination data within the Emirate, which ensures that the right patients are getting the right dose at the right time, no matter where in the Emirate they go to be vaccinated.
"We are seeing good progress on a daily basis. Vaccination programmes are a challenge to manage but having Malaffi’s health information exchange technology in place is a significant enabler of the success of vaccination in the UAE. We can look at overall vaccination rates at an Emirate-wide level and monitor different indicators over time, that provides insights for the capacity planning, and at the patient level, we can record adverse reactions and check for any contraindications such as allergies. This makes the process more efficient and improves safety," notes Dr Farida Al Hosani, official spokesperson for the UAE health sector.
There are three main ways in which Malaffi is supporting the vaccination campaign:
Centralising vaccine information from points of vaccination
Through a dedicated Vaccination Module, Malaffi is currently collecting and sharing vaccination information more than 100 facilities in Abu Dhabi that are part of the vaccination program. Due to the vaccination information being centralised in Malaffi, the DOH and the government have real-time insights about the Emirate's vaccination status. Having access to this information enables the authorities to generate operational reports, plan the vaccination capacities, streamline the logistics and the vaccine supply chain, and inform public outreach programs. Healthcare professionals in Abu Dhabi have access to the COVID-19 vaccination information in Malaffi, which improves clinical decision making and the efficiency of the vaccination program. In the near future, healthcare professionals will be able to see other immunisation data for patients – beyond the COVID-19 vaccine – easily within Malaffi.
Confirming eligibility for vaccination
Having access to the Malaffi vaccines information enables medical staff at the point of vaccination to establish the status of the patient, verifying whether they have been part of any vaccination trial or whether they have already been vaccinated. To enhance safety, medical staff at the point of care can also check the medical history of the patient and identify any possible contraindications to receiving the vaccine, such as allergies. Access to these sources empowers informed decision-making and greatly improves the safety of the vaccination efforts.
Monitoring and reporting of adverse events
Any vaccine side effect noted at the point of care by the clinicians in their electronic health records will be centralised through Malaffi. This information will be an invaluable source for the authorities to monitor the safety of the vaccines longer term.
Looking toward the future, with the digital infrastructure provided by Malaffi, including the recently launched population risk management platform, the Department of Health will have a much clearer picture of the prevalence of chronic diseases or other conditions within the Emirate, that put patients at greater risk of developing severe illness. This information can be used to enhance its current outreach efforts to those individuals, and prioritise vaccine distribution accordingly.
It is thanks to the foresight and strategic investments in such innovation that the UAE is one of the world leaders in COVID-19 vaccination. Malaffi is proud to play a supporting role in its success.
The information available in Malaffi and its population risk management tools will also contribute significantly to any advanced systems tailored for syndromic and pandemic surveillance and response. Such systems will be of the utmost value for early alerts and increased readiness to handle any potential future outbreak for the local and global population's safety, ensuring Abu Dhabi remains at the forefront of public health.