Developing digital contact tracing tailored to haulage in East Africa to support COVID-19 surveillance

Adrian Muwonge, Christine Mpyangu, Allen Nsangi, Ibrahim Mugerwa, Mark Bronsvoort, Thibaud Porphyre, Emmanuel Robert Ssebaggala, Aggelos Kiayias, Mwaka Erisa Sabakaki, Moses L Joloba

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Introduction: At the peak of Uganda’s first wave of SARS-Cov2 in May 2020, one in three COVID-19 cases was linked to the haulage sector. This triggered a mandatory requirement for a negative PCR test result at all ports of entry and exit (POEs), resulting in significant delays as haulage drivers had to wait for 24-48 hours for results, which severely crippled the regional supply chain.

To support public health and economic recovery, we aim to develop and test a mobile phone-based digital contact tracing (DCT) tool that not only augments conventional contact tracing but increases its speed and efficiency.

Methods and analysis: To test the DCT tool, we will use a stratified sample of haulage driver journeys, stratified by route type (regional and local journeys).

We will include at least 65% of the haulage driver journeys ~ 83,200 on the network through Uganda. This allows us to capture variations in user demographics and socio-economic characteristics that could influence the use and adoption of the DCT tool. The developed DCT tool will include a mobile application and web interface to collate and intelligently process data, whose output will support decision making, resource allocation and feed mathematical models that predict epidemic waves.

The main expected result will be an open source tested Digital Contact Tracing (DCT) Tool tailored to haulage use in developing countries.

This study will inform the safe deployment of digital contact tracing technologies needed for combatting pandemics in low-income countries.

Ethics and dissemination: This work has received ethics approval from School of Public Health Higher Degrees, Research and Ethics Committee at Makerere University and The Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. This work will be disseminated through peer reviewed publications, our websites and Github for the open source code
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere058457
Pages (from-to)1-9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number9
Early online date2 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sept 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • COVID-19
  • anthropology
  • epidemiology
  • public health


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