UMass Medical School (UMMS) through the Office of Global Health (OGH) is leading an effort to build a sustainable Lab information system in partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Liberia. Under a two year grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a UMMS-led IT and lab team is working to strengthen the capacity of the MOH labs and health facilities to identify and control future Ebola outbreaks. A core project deliverable is the implementation of a laboratory information system (LIS) as a cornerstone of a country-wide health care information system.
To minimize costs and leverage experiences in other country implementations the UMMS/CDC project team selected an Open Source LIS called ‘Bika.Health’ which has been deployed in several developing countries, including Zimbabwe. In February 2017, Raiva Simbi (UMMS Laboratory Director in Liberia) and Rick Rabe (UMMS IT and LIS technology lead) traveled with two representatives from the Liberia MOH, Mr. Henry Kohar and Mr. Sando Fahnbulle, to Zimbabwe to review that country’s implementation of the Bika.Health LIS platform. Over a three day period the Liberian/UMMS team met with representatives from the Zimbabwean Molecular Reference Laboratory, reviewed the Zimbabwe LIS strategic plan, and visited a regional hospital where the LIS has been deployed to see the Bika.Health in action. They learned valuable lessons from the Zimbabwe rollout that have informed the Liberia project plan.
Spurred by this visit, the UMMS Liberia LIS implementation is now well underway. Two Liberian project members, both trained by Mr. Rabe, are working with Open Source consulting companies to customize the Bika.Health system and sync it with Liberia’s national health information system requirements. A member of the Zimbabwe LIS implementation has been engaged to provide hands on support in the laboratory to facilitate the rollout. The LIS project is expected to be fully deployed at a regional lab by mid-July, with an implementation at the Liberian National Reference Laboratory to follow.
There were also “wins” for UMMS back here in Worcester. In developing technological backstops and workarounds, Rick Rabe has met with the UMMS IT teams to review some of the creative ways to address the challenging environment and likewise, the UMMS IT support team has been helping with support of the far flung equipment. This has expanded UMMS IT expertise for future international project activities while allowing the UMMS/CDC Project team to leverage UMMS systems and expertise, all for the benefit of the health system in Liberia.
Illustration 1: Mr. Sando Fahnbulle,
Mr. Henry Kohar and Rick Rabe at the lab
in Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital,
in Moshonaland West Province, Zimbabwe