THE COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH AND EPIDEMIOLOGICAL SURVEILLANCE SYSTEM (CHESS) PROJECT: AN OVERVIEW
Statistics Sierra Leone (Stats SL) is implementing a $30m grant to the Government of Sierra Leone from the World Bank entitled Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West Africa Project (HISWA) for the period 2020-2025. This is part of a regional project with seven countries (Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Togo) which is expected to be scaled-up to other African countries. The goal of HISWA is to strengthen the statistical system of participating countries and regional bodies in Africa to produce, disseminate and enhance the use of core economic and social statistics.
The HISWA project will support three core tasks: the implementation Strategy for harmonizing statistics in West Africa initiative by African Union (AU); the production of harmonized methodologies by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission; and improve data access at the regional level.
These core tasks will include: support Household-based Surveys; support the Core Set of Economic Statistics; support the modernization of the consumer price index (CPI); support the improvement of administrative data sources; improve data accessibility and dissemination; support institutional reforms and enhance human capital all at the national level.
The project also supports the Government’s vision of efficient internal data management and improved public access to data by providing a comfortable work environment and secure storage of IT equipment and statistical records.
The CHESS Project
A key sub-component of the HISWA project for Sierra Leone (HISWA-SL) involves the improvement of administrative and health statistics. An important strategy for doing this is the new Comprehensive Health and Epidemiological Surveillance System (CHESS) which is being implemented in Sierra Leone for the first time.
CHESS is a new generation of population surveillance operations that is capable of timely delivery of high-quality data for disease-specific and pathogen-specific morbidity, together with data for overall and cause-specific mortality. The widely acclaimed Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) forms the backbone of CHESS.
An HDSS starts with a census of a geographic area to determine the denominator population which then gets evaluated over a long period of time. In and out migration as well as births and deaths of that population determine the dynamic cohort. Verbal autopsies are taken on deaths to report on cause-specific mortality.
The main CHESS innovation is the effective integration across population and health facility data systems, linking demographic, epidemiological, mortality, morbidity, clinical, laboratory, household, environmental, health systems, and other contextual data, with a unique electronic individual identification system throughout. It is expected that this innovation will enable Sierra Leone to take part in cutting edge longitudinal population-based research which many other countries in Africa, Asia and the Pacific have been implementing as part of the INDEPTH Network of HDSS member centres.
Importantly, in the implementation of CHESS, Stats SL will collaborate with National Civil Registration Authority (NCRA), Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS), the Universities, Civil Society Organisations, NGOs and other research institutions.
In Sierra Leone, the selection of districts to implement the CHESS project sites was done by a large group of stakeholders who used specific criteria to determine the locations.