Quality Assurance and Quality Control in the Global Trachoma Mapping Project
In collaboration with the health ministries that we serve and other partners, we set out to complete the multiple-country Global Trachoma Mapping Project. To maximize the accuracy and reliability of its outputs, we needed in-built, practical mechanisms for quality assurance and quality control. This article describes how those mechanisms were created and deployed. Using expert opinion, computer simulation, working groups, field trials, progressively accumulated in-project experience, and external evaluations, we developed 1) criteria for where and where not to undertake population-based prevalence surveys for trachoma; 2) three iterations of a standardized training and certification system for field teams; 3) a customized Android phone-based data collection app; 4) comprehensive support systems; and 5) a secure end-to-end pipeline for data upload, storage, cleaning by objective data managers, analysis, health ministry review and approval, and online display. We are now supporting peer-reviewed publication. Our experience shows that it is possible to quality control and quality assure prevalence surveys in such a way as to maximize comparability of prevalence estimates between countries and permit high-speed, high-fidelity data processing and storage, while protecting the interests of health ministries.