Kenya Rolls Out Open-Source e-Health System

Steve Mbogo | The East African | September 15, 2012

An open source software e-health system being used in Kenya’s public hospitals since February has drastically cut costs and should pave the way for the model to be replicated in other East African countries. The e-health system developed by Kenya government and development partners in 2011 is being used  for disease outbreak surveillance, early infant diagnosis of HIV, management of vaccine delivery and health commodities like drugs.

Setting up an e-health disease surveillance system managed by a local mobile telecommunications company would have cost a whopping $2 million. “But we decided to use open source software and the cost came down to $100,000. The software was developed by students from Strathmore University,” said Gerald Macharia, the head of Clinton Health Access Initiative in East Africa, one of the project partners with an oversight role over the e-health government project.

He said deploying commercial software developers is expensive, which has prevented many African countries from deploying the systems. E-health systems are crucial in Africa where delivery of public health is poor because of low investments in equipment, facilities and the human resource...