DHIS2 News: HISP Rwanda supports the launch of the Basketball Africa League through DHIS2 integration

Fans can attend the opening games in Kigali in person thanks to a COVID-19 test results portal powered by DHIS2 and integration with Smartabase and e-ticketing systems

What does DHIS2 have to do with basketball? Thanks to the innovative work of HISP Rwanda — part of the global HISP network — test results from Rwanda’s national COVID-19 testing system (based on DHIS2 metadata packages and the Android Capture App) are securely shared with web-based e-ticket management, travel registration, and athlete and staff health monitoring systems via the DHIS2 API, supporting a safe start to the inaugural season of the Basketball Africa League (BAL) in Kigali.

Rwanda DHIS2 Covid integration supports BAL launch in Kigali
Kigali Arena ready to accept fans and players with negative COVID-19 test results via DHIS2 (Photo via BAL)

The BAL is the first professional basketball league sanctioned by the National Basketball Association (NBA) outside of North America, and includes 12 clubs from 12 different African countries. Kigali was chosen as the site of the kickoff tournament for the BAL, and the first season was scheduled for 2020, but ultimately postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and rescheduled to begin on 16 May, 2021. Due to ongoing travel restrictions and risk of infection, the Rwandan government implemented rigorous controls for testing and registration both of players and other travelers coming to take part in the tournament, as well as mandating evidence of a negative COVID-19 test for fans attending the games in person. The electronic systems for storing, verifying and sharing these results are built on DHIS2.

The travel registration system features an integration between a web registration portal, Rwanda’s DHIS2 COVID-19 testing system and hotel dashboard for verification of test results. To start the process, travelers fill out a passenger locator form on Rwanda’s web portal before starting their trip, and automatically receive a Lab ID generated by the DHIS2 system that is sent to them at the email address the traveler provides. Provided they meet the other requirements set by Rwandan authorities, travelers can then travel to Rwanda. Upon arrival, they are given a PCR COVID-19 test, using their Lab ID to locate and update their DHIS2 record. Travelers are then required to wait in a designated hotel until their test results are ready. Travelers receive their results directly by SMS. this SMS includes a link to a secure certificate available via the online results portal. Meanwhile, the hotel reception team also has access to a Hotel Dashboard which automatically refreshes to show which travelers have received test results in real time (without indicating whether the results are negative or positive) so that they can help notify travelers that their results are available.

In addition, the BAL also has its own system for monitoring player and staff health throughout the tournament to help control the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. This NBA Smartabase system provides daily health updates for the more than 900 people directly involved in the BAL tournament in Kigali, and has been successfully integrated with Rwanda’s DHIS2-based system for COVID-19 test results. Together with the travel screening system, this meant that Rwandan authorities had solution in place to help maintain pandemic safety measures as players and staff traveled to Kigali and while the tournament was underway.

The last challenge to solve was that of spectators. One thing that has become clear to anyone who has watched professional sporting events during the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of in-person fans for bringing energy to the game. Since gathering a large number of people in close proximity involves significant risk of COVID-19 infection, it was essential for the BAL and Rwandan health authorities to find a solution that allowed fans to attend this tournament with minimal risk. As Rwanda’s Minister of Sports stated to Times Sports:

“Fans are allowed at the Arena. However, every fan will only be allowed to watch a match after showing a Covid-19 negative test,” she said, adding that “all other preventive measures like wearing of face masks and social distancing among others will be strictly followed.”

To support this, HISP Rwanda supported the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA) in integrating the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 test results system with the sports e-ticket management system, so that fans buying tickets could present a unique COVID-19 ID matching their ticket detail, thus allowing fans with negative test results to purchase tickets and attend the first BAL basketball games in Africa!

For HISP Rwanda, this project has provided additional opportunities to develop unique custom solutions, and to show how DHIS2 data can be integrated with a variety of electronic systems. Based on the success of this integration, they believe the DHIS2 API can be used to support any similar sporting event in the future by providing access to verified COVID-19 test results while keeping personal information confidential. For the global DHIS2 community, this is a creative example of how DHIS2 can be combined with a wide variety of systems to address local needs, both within and beyond the health sector.