What is mTrac and how does it work?

mTrac is an SMS and web-based data collection and analysis platform developed to enable health facility workers and community health workers to submit routine health management information system (HMIS) reports, covering weekly disease surveillance and drug stocks, at zero cost via their personally owned basic mobile phones. Another component of mTrac is the anonymous, toll-free SMS-based hotline for reporting service delivery issues to strengthen community participation in monitoring.

When was mTrac launched?

mTrac was launched in December 2011.

What's the geographical scope of mTrac?

mTrac is to cover every District (112), every Health Facility (>5000) and Community Health Workers (>5000) in Uganda, with national scale-up expected to be completed by Q1 2013.

Does this system replace the current paper reporting system?

No. It is important for health facilities to maintain hard copies of health records at site, and to keep a paper trail in case of any network failures.

Does mTrac give special project phones for reporting?

No. Careful consideration was given to project design to ensure scalability and sustainability. The mTrac system was built to work on ANY mobile phone. Management, maintenance and support of project specific phones create an additional burden of work for both the health worker, as well as the District Health Teams and Ministry of Health who have to ensure phones are available and in good working order. Furthermore, in areas were electricity is scarce, the costs to keep a personal and a project phone charged can be a challenge.

What if one don’t have a phone?

In almost all cases seen, at least one person at the Health Facility has a personal phone. In case no one at the facility has a mobile phone then reporting alternatives are arranged with the District Health Team.

Does it cost anything to report using mTrac?

All reports sent by Health Facility and Community Health Workers from their mobiles are at NO cost, and can be sent on any mobile phone network. Additionally, all messages sent by the District Health Teams from the mTrac online Dashboard to the health facility and community health workers are also free.

How does one guarantee the accuracy of the data submitted?

mTrac immediately sends feedback after submitting a report, reading back the report to the user to check. The system will also send an error message in case an incorrect message is sent and prompt the user to resend the correct SMS. This can also be corrected on the online dashboard managed by the District Health Team.

What is the anonymous hotline?

The anonymous hotline is an avenue for Ugandan citizens, including health workers themselves, to be able to communicate directly with District Health Teams and the Ministry of Health, and provide feedback about the quality of health services in their area.

This could range from recognition of a health worker or facility for great service, reporting issues such as drug stock-outs at facilities, health facilities not open during working hours, health worker salaries not arriving on time and other bottlenecks affecting day-to-day execution of health worker duties.

The hotline provides for anonymity of the sender. All phone numbers are unable to be viewed and are deleted from the system.

How do I send an Anonymous message?

Sending an SMS report to the Anonymous Hotline is easy and at NO cost. Go to the 'create message' function of your phone and type a new message in any language of your preference. In your message, please provide as many details as possible in your report such as the name of the health unit, the district and send to 8200. You will know your message has been received when you get an immediate reply from mTrac.

What happens to these Anonymous reports?

All messages are filtered by topic and relevance, and then made immediately available to the District Health Teams on the mTrac Dashboard. The respective District Health Teams are tasked with following up and investigating any reports. In case of a report outside the scope of the district to respond to, the report is forwarded to the respective national agencies e.g. National Medical Stores, Monitoring Unit and Ministry of Health.

Is there evidence to show that mTrac has had an impact?

Yes. There has been a steady increase in reporting rates in the districts where mTrac is being implemented, providing disaggregated, real-time data that was previously unavailable at the national level. There has also been a noticeable, steady decline in stock-out rates of ACTs from active facilities.

How can I access the data reported through mTrac?

Every week on the website are data analysis representations of reports submitted to mTrac. Please find more information here

Who are the partners supporting mTrac?

mTrac is an initiative led by the Uganda Ministry of Health with support from United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO), with funding from DFID UK Aid. Additional support is being provided by the Medicines and Health Services Delivery Monitoring Unit (MHSDMU), the National Medical Stores (NMS) and Malaria Consortium.

I am interested in a collaboration with mTrac, how can I do this?

mTrac partners are very interested in collaborations that can further the mTrac mission. Please contact us here

What software does mTrac use?

mTrac is built on the RapidSMS Framework, which is open-source and freely available for download at http://rapidsms.readthedocs.org/en/latest/. RapidSMS has been used to rapidly prototype and develop software applications covering a wide range of applications, including birth registration in Nigeria and Kenya, supply tracking in Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, community dialogue in Senegal and Uganda, growth monitoring in Malawi, anti-natal tracking in Rwanda, and transfer of EID results in Zambia.