Ghana to become first country to use contactless biometrics in national vaccination program
The Ghana Health Service in partnership with Gavi and Arm will begin a biometric-based national vaccination program in October 2021 using contactless technology from Simprints. Starting in the Eastern region, the project is reportedly the first national vaccination scheme to use contactless biometrics.
After initially dispensing COVID-19 vaccinations, the system will move on to incorporate other routine vaccinations as a function of the Ghana Health Service aim for universal health coverage.
Gavi, the vaccine alliance, brings the immunization expertise to administer vaccines, including for COVID-19, in a trackable way via biometric records created with Simprints technology, supported by Arm’s input, funding and global network, according to a posting by Gavi to Arm’s blog.
After trialing technologies for contactless fingerprint and facial recognition, the project will use low-cost Android smartphones in the field to make the initiative as easy and cheap as possible to roll out.
The system does not require an existing formal identity document. A biometric identity will be created for individuals and elements of the latest database downloaded to health worker handsets allowing them to continue vaccination offline and upload when a connection becomes available. The hope is that this approach will be effective in terms of population reach as well as low wastage rates.
For the second dose for COVID-19 vaccines, the individual’s biometrics will be verified to recall their record and check appropriateness for the second and if administered, update the records.
Simprints is already working with Ghana Health Services as part of a broader scheme to integrate biometrics into universal health coverage in the country. Another area being developed is childhood immunizations along with maternal health, TB and HIV care.
The Gavi post states that a thousand healthcare workers will be trained for the three-year project.
According to a blog post from Cisco, which has been supporting Simprints in its development of contactless biometrics since 2018, the contactless approach has multiple advantages over the traditional approach: it is more hygienic, more accurate, quicker to deploy, requires no specialist equipment and is more culturally acceptable in some regions.
The post states that field work with the facial recognition element of Simprints’ biometrics found it to be 98 percent accurate.
Almost 1.3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccinations have so far been administered in Ghana according to the Ghana Health Service.