He said there were calls to change the 117 to 112, but there was no reason to change it as 117 has been popular and very viable in the fight against emergencies in the country.
Dr Vandi said because the Minister too was in support for the 117, they decided to rebrand it and give it more value to work across the country rather than Freetown.
Giving update on 117 operations, Sally Williams said today people are witnessing the new and improved 117 Call Center. She said over the past 12 months, the Ministry of Health and eHealth Africa have worked together to ensure they strengthen the national surveillance efforts through the use of 117.
“I would like to highlight some of the activities we have been working on to make this all happen. We have upgraded the call center software for a more accurate and precise data collection and we have added a new caller category of “Community Health Worker”. Our community health workers play a very vital role in reporting cases to 117; and I am also happy to announce that we provided internet for all the districts for real time reporting and data collection for 117.
Sally Williams averred that they have improved on their sms software service that now provides a single text code to a caller to receive the burial code which confirms that they have indeed called 117.
“In an effort to get the districts more engaged, it is important to note that 117 is not just centralized in Freetown. We have alert desks set up in all 14 districts with District and Data coordinators there to manage the calls in real time.”
She said moving forward with 117, they are planning to re-brand 117 and utilize the social mobilization officers especially in the districts so that they can reach a greater number of the community and really encourage people to call 117 for any and all emergencies!
“As you know with time, technology also changes and we plan on doing an upgrade to our system to be in line so that we can continue to provide quality data for reporting.”
She said with the new One Health approach, 117 actively participates in the Surveillance Technical working group where they share the most updated information as received via their call centres to guide interventions.
“Every day, we are striving to produce better quality data to drive the evidence based approach when handling public health issues in the country.”
Deputy Director Dr A.J. Moosa said 117 is making positive strides in the country and the upgrade has taken them to the international standard. He said they are now moving from a small office to a bigger on with more equipment to render more services to the people of Sierra Leone.
He said 117 is always easier to rebrand than to start afresh which is not good for them as 117 has been very popular across the country.