Mobile Health Technology in Rwanda

The Rwanda Ministry of Health is investing in mobile health (mHealth) technology. In August 2009, the Ministry launched an mHealth (M-Ubuzima) initiative to support community health workers in maternal and child health interventions by utilizing mobile technology. 432 community health workers, who are responsible for maternal health in the Musanze district, were given mobile phones equipped with Rapid SMS tools. These mobiles allow health workers to report difficult cases, complications or emergencies to the nearest clinic or hospital, and improve maternal health information tracking by capturing data about pre-natal health, delivery, and birth outcomes. The pilot project has produced hopeful results, and the goal is to give mobiles to all maternal health workers across the country and eventually to all community health workers.

via Women Deliver » Updates » Celebrate Solutions: Training and Mobile Health Technology in Rwanda.

Rwanda: High Internet, SMS Costs Slow Rural Project

High Internet and SMS costs may slow rolling out Rwanda’s e-soko project, it is emerging. The e-soko or e-market is an electronic platform giving farmers, consumers and traders up-to-date market price information by SMS and Internet.

However, when a team from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) staff and selected media houses visited Kicukiro market in Kigali to assess how traders and consumers are adopting to the technology, some sections of the public protested the costs involved calling them high.

via Rwanda: High Internet, SMS Costs Slow Rural Project.

New public health laboratory network for East Africa

The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved US$63.66 million to create a unique regional network of 25 public health laboratories across Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda. This network will operate across country borders, improving access to diagnostic services to vulnerable populations in cross border areas and making optimal use of internet and mobile communications to improve public health.

Laboratories are currently the weakest link in the region’s public health defenses, seriously hindering each country’s ability to confirm and respond in a coordinated manner to disease outbreaks. By bolstering diagnostic and surveillance capacities, the new multi-country laboratory network will help to identify potentially devastating disease outbreaks at an early stage, enabling countries to act quickly to prevent the rapid spread of diseases across borders. Communicating outbreak-related information across national borders in real time is more important than ever before, as labor mobility is likely to increase shortly with the establishment of the East African Community common market and with growing global travel.

The network will also support the roll-out of new technology for drug resistance monitoring and more efficient tuberculosis diagnosis, most notably for people living with HIV/AIDS. Greater access to diagnostic services is expected to significantly contribute to improved health outcomes, and ultimately to attaining the Millennium Development Goals.

via World Bank Press Release, 25 May 2010

Rwanda upgrades ID to multi-purpose smart card

Rwanda has launched the next phase of its National ID Project by contracting a British company, De La Rue, to develop a multi-purpose smart card.  According to project coordinator Pascal Nyamulinda, “The services offered will include identification, access to insurance services, bank services and immigration services. ”

The production of the cards has already started and they are expected be ready by the end of the year. “As we integrate the services, we will start with institutions that use electronic systems in their operations. So far only the immigration and emigration department are set for this,” Nyamulinda added. All biometric data required for the new card – digital picture, electric finger print and signature – have already been captured for the existing national identity cards which began to be issued in 2008. Over 95 percent of the population, including those in the diaspora, have already acquired this card.

via Rwandan Development Gateway, 17 Feb 2010

Rwanda recognises need for labour database

“If we can bring together all the categories of data we have on labour, it would be easy to analyze them and ascertain available skills that are not being utilized. This would help us create jobs in line with the skills available.” This according to Rwandan Minister of Public Service and Labour, Anastase Murekezi, talking at a strategic planning meeting that brought together officials from his ministry and development partners. During the meeting it was reported that the ministry lacks a systematic employment tracking and assessment scheme to help it keep abreast with the labour market patterns. The minister added that it is not only about collecting the data, but also setting initiatives of making it useful in order to create big employment promotion programmes in the country.

via Charles Kwizera at The New Times on, 22 Jan 2010

eRwanda develops Information Security Policy

The latest phase of Rwanda’s ICT drive has the government tendering for consultants to consolidate information security policy.

Rwanda has received a grant from the Swedish Government through SIDA for institutional capacity development which is being implemented by the Rwanda Development Board – Information Technology Authority (RITA). RITA is a government institution established by an act of parliament, with a specific purpose to articulate, catalyze, and facilitate the implementation of National ICT policies, strategies and plans, as outlined in the National Information and Communication Infrastructure Policy and Plan. One of the projects in this plan is to establish a National Cyber Security Center and one of the activities under this project is to develop a Government Information Security Policy (policies, procedures and best practices).

The objective of the current project is to deliver a suite of policies and practices that will protect government data and information infrastructures from security breach, and provide controls which enable sensitive information to be kept confidential.

Details of the tender can be found here.

Rwanda trains its own developers for e-Health Programme

The Rwandan Ministry of Health, has  unveiled its first batch of software programmers who will be in charge of developing and implementing the Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS). OpenMRS is  a community-developed, open-source, enterprise electronic medical record system platform which is being implemented in Rwanda to nationally track patient-level medical information, connecting over 500 health facilities.

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 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.”

from Peninnah Gathoni in The New Times via

This, in my view, is the ultimate model for the development of public information systems: create local capacity to develop bespoke systems using open source software or semi-built generic applications.