As the global pandemic threatened North Africa, Morocco, like so many countries, was unready to defend against it.

Its health information systems were weak, outdated, and underfunded. Data was manually collected and siloed. Information tended to be listed on paper forms rather than in the cloud.

Given the circumstances, it was difficult for health officials to identify high-risk regions, spreaders, and asymptomatic patients. Administrative delays prevented all but a few labs from testing. But even when the results came in, details about available drugs were hazy at best.

A Need for the Ugly Truth

Aggravating the situation was the nature of the Moroccan healthcare system, which was divided into complicated layers, distinguishing facilities by location, university affiliation, and other categories.

The conditions had officials alarmed about the possibility of COVID-19 exploding up and down the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts, as well as the country’s mountainous interior.

To save lives, Morocco’s Ministry of Health needed to quickly come up with a single source of truth – whether the truth was ugly or not. At a glance, officials would then be able to gain insights into total confirmed cases, instances of recovery and death, the growth of daily outbreaks across the various tiers of the country’s healthcare network, and the stock of drugs in various hospitals and regions.

“We didn’t have a system like this,” observed Dr. Ahmed Rguig, director of Morocco’s Centre of Epidemiology. “We were very aware that we had to put something in place that allowed us to manage the scale of the pandemic with professionalism and in real time.”

Quickly Partnering to Combat a Crisis

With no time to spare, the ministry turned to the ALGO Consulting Group, an international technology services provider based in the city of Rabat.

ALGO proposed a user-friendly, innovative solution, enabling country-wide monitoring of the pandemic in real time. The application would be available on numerous devices and help officials make accurate decisions swiftly.

As the first partner in Africa to be certified for SAP Analytics Cloud, ALGO already had experience developing a solution for Morocco’s transport sector. Now, it went back to SAP to use its enterprise software proficiency to help manage the pandemic.

“Because of our analytics expertise…we could help our country adopt its first-ever digital tracking system in response to the coronavirus outbreak,” noted Naoual Hammane, the SAP director working with ALGO.

The use of SAP Analytics Cloud allowed for the creation of real-time, role-specific dashboards, which could be accessed via desktops and mobile devices. Every 10 minutes, the control center data would be updated, empowering experts to make efficient, life-saving decisions.

“Two teams worked in 24-hour shifts to get the project delivered,” said Hammane. “I have been managing SAP projects for 14 years and this is the first time ever a project has been managed virtually. We used video conferencing and telephone calls.”

Working at Breakneck Speed to Slow Outbreaks

On March 1, 2020, just two weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was recorded in Morocco – and 11 days before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a pandemic – the country’s COVID-19 Real-Time Monitoring system was deployed.

Officials accustomed to tracking down data with phone calls now had all the data they needed at their fingertips.

The results were nothing short of miraculous:

  • ALGO developed training videos that enabled users to learn the intricacies of the new system in just four hours.
  • Laboratory test capacity increased 100 times – from 100 to 10,000 COVID-19 tests administered each day.
  • The ability to receive IT resources, data, and other technology services increased four times.
  • The speed at which information was received allowed the government to deliver tests where they were most needed.
  • With the enhanced understanding of the drug stock, allocations could be capably targeted.

Using Mass Media to Save Lives

To ensure that everyone – regardless of technological capacity – was informed, the Ministry of Health provided televised updates each night at 6:00 p.m.

The number of lives saved as the result of these broadcasts is impossible to calculate.

“We can use this project as something to be proud of,” said Dr. Rguig. “It demonstrates that we have succeeded in this crisis.”

Its quick deployment of the COVID-19 Real-Time Monitoring system helped the Moroccan Ministry of Heath earn recognition as a 2021 SAP Innovation Awards finalist. The yearly awards honor organizations that have used SAP solutions to improve business and society.

Get all the details about the Moroccan Ministry of Health’s innovative solution here.

Keith Greenberg is an SAP global marketing contributor.