Technology Gives Rwanda an Edge in Treating HIV/AIDS
November 9, 2007
Doctors in Rwanda say the Tracnet electronic reporting system has dramatically improved their ability to treat HIV/AIDS patients across the nation. Using computer and mobile phone technology, the system lets doctors file patient histories and request medicines in seconds instead of months, as was the case with the old paper-based system.
"Tracnet is a good instrument for reporting," said Dr. Tom Mushi, director of Polyclinic for Hope, which serves 426 HIV-positive women in Kigali, the capital. "At the central level, they are able to get the whole picture of the whole country, of needs and problems. It helps us with the availability of drugs."
Tracnet lets medical professionals upload requests for antiretrovirals via the Web or through an automated operator on a toll-free number. This helps doctors ensure that clinics do not run short of critical drugs. "We instantly know who needs which drugs, and we can ... have the drugs sent on time," said Dr. Anita Asiimwe, managing director of Rwanda's Center for the Treatment and Research of AIDS.
"I have the format in the phone, and it's easy to use," Mushi said. He added that doctors in out-of-network locations can still create and save reports on their phone, then submit the information when they are back in the network. Rwanda's Ministry of Health provides doctors with cell phones but cannot yet furnish laptops to all 158 clinics providing care for the nation's estimated 190,000 HIV/AIDS patients.
Rwanda brought Tracnet online in 2005 in collaboration with Tulane University and Washington-based Voxiva, which designed the software. While Rwanda presently uses the technology only in clinics treating AIDS patients, the plan is eventually to expand it to facilities treating other conditions, said Heidi Jugenitz, a Voxiva project coordinator.
Voice of America News
11.01.2007; Noel King
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.