The New Times (Kigali)

23 October 2009

Rwanda: Gov't Unveils e-Health Programmers

Kigali — The government, through the Ministry of Health, Thursday, unveiled the first batch of software programmers who will be in charge of developing and implementing the Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS).

The OpenMRS system that rolled out in Rwanda in August 2006, seeks to nationally track patient-level medical information for improved healthcare delivery.

The programmers underwent 11-month training in software development which was conducted by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with Rwanda Development Board/IT (RITA), Partners in Health and TRAC Plus.

Speaking during the programmers' graduation ceremony held in Serena Hotel, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Agnes Binagwaho said; "This targeted training is part of a bigger health sector puzzle. We have the vision of developing an integrated e-Health system and trained programmers will help us achieve that."

Binagwaho noted that the ministry has plans to electronically connect over 500 health facilities in the country hence more expertise in programming needs to be mobilized and developed.

The event saw the programmers receive certificates of completion in Electronic Health Software Development and Implementation.

Speaking at the event, the Deputy CEO in charge ICT/RITA in Rwanda Development Board (RDB), Patrick Nyirishema, congratulated the programmers and called upon them to use their skills to develop the health sector.

"We envision Rwanda as a model for other countries in ICT usage; building a team of software developers is a first step to developing our e-health system as planned," he said.

"The training we have received will help us to develop software that will centralize medical record-keeping, and make decision making easier and faster," said Jean Kahigiso, one of the programmers.

"OpenMRS system is free software and with this training, we can be able to localize it and make it more applicable to Rwanda's health structure."

To date, OpenMRS has been implemented in several African countries including South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania.

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