As the national government’s response in the management of the contagion of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) rolled out two surveillance and monitoring systems called FASSSTER (Feasibility Analysis of Syndromic Surveillance Using Spatio-Temporal Epidemiological Modeler for Early Detection of Diseases) and Tanod COVID,  to aid cities and municipalities in the region in making science-based and data driven actions to successfully cope with the impacts of the pandemic.

FASSSTER is a web-based surveillance application used to create predictive models and forecast number of COVID-19 infections including confirmed positive cases, deaths, and recoveries in an area over a certain period. This application aims to help local government units (LGUs) assess possible scenarios of the pandemic at a national, regional and local level and make informed decisions about preventive measures that can be applied in their respective jurisdiction.

TanodCOVID, an adjunct of FASSSTER, is a short message service (SMS)-based platform that provides households a means to determine potential COVID-19 cases by privately reporting symptoms of family members to LGUs or barangay health units. TanodCOVID helps LGUs obtain vital information that can be used for contact tracing purposes and in identifying the extent of cases and incidents in an area.

To encourage adoption of the technology, a resolution entitled “Resolution Endorsing the Adoption of the FASSSTER and TanodCOVID Application of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) by MIMAROPA LGUs and other relevant Planning Units / Entities” was approved last May by the MIMAROPA Regional Task Force for COVID-19.

As of July 2020, a total of 64 frontliners from 39 LGUs were trained in epidemiological surveillance of COVID-19 using the said applications. Since April, a total of seven training activities, online and on-site were conducted, which included various demonstrations by trainers from DOST-MIMAROPA who also underwent training to assist LGUs in the use of FASSSTER and TANODCovid.

An online training was conducted last June 30 for frontliners from the LGU of Baco, Naujan, Pinamalayan, and San Teodoro, Oriental Mindoro by DOST-MIMAROPA through its Provincial S&T Center in Oriental Mindoro and with the help of volunteer trainors from Occidental Mindoro State College

With the proliferation of data on COVID-19 being created daily through the applications, it has become imperative to take intelligent steps to be able to properly interpret and manage them to help LGUs utilize the information and deliver appropriate responses. In order to do so, member institutions of the MIMAROPA Health Research and Development Consortium (MHRDC) stepped up and volunteered to become data interpreters for their respective municipalities and provinces.

DOST-MIMAROPA through its Provincial S&T Center in Marinduque along with Dr.Julieta Nabos a volunteer from Marinduque State College conducted an onsite training on the use of FASSSTER and TanodCOVID for frontliners from LGU Mogpog, Torrijos, and Santa Cruz

Twenty-nine (29) researchers and experts from four different MIMAROPA SUCs – Occidental Mindoro State College, Marinduque State College, Romblon State University and Palawan State University underwent a Training of Trainers lead by the FASSSTER Dev Team.

When I learned about the FASSSTER program of DOST, I volunteered right away with two purposes in mind. My first purpose is to learn from experts in the field of Medicine and Statistics who developed the program. The second one is to give back to the community as my share in the battle against Covid-19. From what I initially learned about the training for FASSSTER program, its primary objective is to help the government in in its fight against Covid-19 through science-based approaches. said Dr. Julieta Nabos a volunteer data interpreter and Dean of School of Technology in MSC.

The training of trainers has provided the volunteers an overview of the applications through various demonstrations of its important features and functions such as the Time Series Projection that allows users to create simulation of possible COVID-19 scenarios.

To date, eight (8) LGUs have adopted FASSSTER while there are already 11 LGUs in MIMAROPA that uses TANODCovid. The systems were developed by DOST through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Devlopment (PCHRD) in collaboration with Department of Health, UP National Telehealth Center (UP NTC), and the Ateneo de Manila University.