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Kenya to Electronise AIDS Medical Records

By Geoffrey Kamadi
Freelance Writer - Kenya
Dr-Nicholas-Muraguri-of-NASCOP-(L)-during-the-40th-annivesary-celebrations-of-Futures-Group.-Looking-on-is-Dr-Ibrahim-Mohamed-
The IQCare systems project came out of a programme known as AIDS Relief, funded by the CDC 9 years ago. (Image Credit: Geoffrey Kamadi)
Muraguri during the 40th anniv.& Ibrahim Mohamed

A new system set to be introduced in Kenyan government hospitals will make paper records a thing of the past.

The International Quality (IQ) Care system, which is developed by the Futures Group, will replace paper records in hospitals with electronic ones for storing HIV/AIDS data. The National AIDS/STI Control Programme (NASCOP), Department of Health Informatics is directly involved in this project.

The system’s focus is on data for HIV/AIDS, Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and TB for HIV positive patients.

This will effectively bring the country at par with developed nations when it comes to medical data storage. As a matter of fact it has been shown that the system’s recorded data on HIV suppression match those of US domestic programmes.

“IQCare is a free, Electronic Medical Records System cited to be among the systems targeted by the two Ministries of Health for national roll out,” explains Anne Barsigo, the Head of the Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) project at Futures Group Kenya.

She says that the system will assist the government’s facilities improve health information use and automation of key reports. The system will assist health facility staff monitor patient outcomes.

The implementation of the system in government selected model sites will take place in phases. These stages will include site assessments, procurement of equipment such as computers, training of facility staff, deployment of the system, and continuous support supervision.

“We will train and mentor them to ensure that they are able to use and maintain the system,” explains Barsigo.

The Group provides solution systems free of charge because it is funded by the US government. IQCare system will therefore be installed without charge, according to Richard Ngathe, the interim country director.

The IQCare systems project came out of a programme known as AIDS Relief, funded by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) nine years ago. It has been used in Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania and Rwanda as well as Haiti and Guyana.

Even though different countries employ the system, they differ from country to country owing to their specific needs.

“These are locally driven solutions. So the Kenyan one is very different from a Ugandan one because we have to make sure that we meet the Kenyan ministry of health requirements,” explains Ngathe.

He adds that the Group has been working with faith based medical facilities throughout the country. It is now moving into government health facilities after being awarded a grant by CDC.

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Up to 140 health facilities throughout the country are being supported. These facilities serve well over 140,000 patients whose every HIV/AIDS transaction is captured in the data base.

“The electronic system we have developed mirror the government’s manual records for the past 10 years for capturing HIV/ AIDS data,” says Ngathe.

Is It the Right Time?

Experts in the health fraternity say that the system could not have come at a more appropriate time given the changing patterns of disease experienced over the past few years.

However, it will be interesting to see how doctors respond to the technology, since doctors are known to strongly incline to writing.

On the other hand, Dr. Ibrahim Mohamed, the Head of NASCOP has welcomed the system, stating that patient follow-up will become much easier.

“We will be able to monitor retention and mortality of patients, therefore be in a better position to measure the quality of healthcare we are providing,” he said.

These sentiments are echoed by Dr. Nicholas Muraguri of NASCOP. He says that the idea of the card system cannot work anymore, stressing that the need for electronic records is the way to go.

“This partnership will help us build towards that objective,” he expressed, adding that the system will be useful in availing treatment to people living with HIV/AIDS because, “There is no other disease you treat forever,” like the HIV/AIDS condition.

“At a touch of a button the doctor is able to get all the patient’s details. This is the future and our plan is to scale it up starting with high volume hospitals like Mbagathi and Kenyatta National Hospital,” he said.

Dr. Masasabi Wekesa, the Senior Deputy Director of medical services in the Ministry of Medical Services says that the initiative will help to have a vibrant health management information system, in line with the new constitution.

“The new constitution has made it clear that every Kenyan has a right to information. The information has to be correct and in real time,” he showed.

In addition, Ngathe informed that the system has been shown to be much more efficient. Whereas the manual systems have been shown to have a retention rate of 60 per cent, the electronic system on the other hand has a patient retention rate of 85 per cent.

“We have much better numbers in electronic and some of our numbers are comparable to the US domestic figures,” says Ngathe.

Related Links:
World AIDS Day December 1, 2011. HIV Asian Children Suffer Resistance to AIDS Drugs
Challenges to Anti-HIV Circumcision Program
Kenya National AIDS & STI Control Programme-NASCOP
Preventing Mother-to-child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT)
AIDSRelief IQCare HMIS EMR
Geoffrey Kamadi is a freelance journalist based in Kenya. He can be reached by sending an e-mail to [email protected]

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