The Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment, together with the Blood Transfusion Institute of Serbia, has established a platform donirajplazmu.gov.rs through which all citizens recovering from COVID-19 can apply and donate valuable antibodies which their body created during the disease, and which are used for treatment of COVID-19 infected patients. Since April, when the system was established, almost 2,000 citizens have donated plasma. This system has now been improved by automated communication, enabling the sending of free SMS notifications to all donors. The platform for sending these text messages, “RapidPro”, was donated by UNICEF to the Government of the Republic of Serbia. UNICEF has also provided expert support to successfully integrate RapidPro into the existing systems and to have it deployed in the State Data Center in Belgrade.
“This is yet another indicator that public administration institutions have put communication with citizens into their focus and that they are adapting to the modern way of life, which means that services and information are available on mobile phones. This system, which we have established with the generous help of UNICEF in the State Data Center and integrated it with the Donate Plasma information system, enables the timely informing of donors. We hope to expand its use to many other e-Government services in the coming months”, says Assist. Prof. Mihailo Jovanović, Director of the Office for Information Technologies and eGovernment.
“The project of collecting and applying anti-COVID 19 plasma started in April. Plasma is currently collected at the Blood Transfusion Institute of Serbia in Belgrade and the Blood Transfusion Institute of Vojvodina in Novi Sad, and the plan is to have plasma collected in blood transfusion institutes in Niš, Kragujevac and Užice as well. By donating this platform, UNICEF has made it easier for us to communicate with donors and enable a fast, simple and modern way of exchanging information. This is especially important in situations when it is necessary to provide sufficient quantities of plasma for the treatment of patients or when there is a lack of plasma of certain blood groups,” stated Acting Director of the Blood Transfusion Institute of Serbia, Dr. Vesna Mijucić.
RapidPro has been produced by UNICEF’s global Innovations Lab in collaboration with software development firm Nyaruka and was launched by UNICEF’s Global Innovation Centre in 2014. It is a free, open-source platform that enables automated communication and data collection through SMS and social networks.
The Government of the Republic of Serbia is initially using the software as a resource for tackling the COVID-19 response by facilitating communication with potential plasma donors. Further use is being explored for the recovery phase in health and education systems, for communicating with frontline workers, patients, teachers, parents, and pupils.
“RapidPro is currently deployed in 37 countries and allows partners to gather accurate real-time information on vital areas such as health, nutrition, education, water and sanitation, and child protection – even in remote and hard to reach places. We hope to see its use expanded in the months to come in support of the ongoing socio-economic reforms”, says UNICEF’s Representative in Serbia, Regina De Dominicis.