Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care

HI-TRAIN: Better Health Information for better health care

Health Informatics Training and Research in East Africa for Improved Health Care (HI-TRAIN).

UiB co-ordinator: Khalid Mughal, Department of Informatics
Contact at CIH: Thorkild Tylleskär
Project period: 2013-2018
Moi University, Kenya
Makerere University, Uganda
University of Bergen, Dept. of Informatics together with Centre for International Health, Norway

Ministries of Health often have little relevant information to guide policy making, programme planning and budgeting. It is recognized that one of the best modalities to manage health data is in an electronic format. Kenya is in the process of rolling out Electronic Health Records Systems (EHRs) at 600 MoH sites by 2014. Uganda is evaluating several EHRs for planned national roll-out, and has also implemented governmental led processes for systematically introduction of scalable mobile health technologies in the country.

There is a lack of human capacities to support the eHealth systems and lack of capacity to generate, disseminate and use evidence around HI technologies. Uganda and Kenya have recognized an emergent need for national strategies to build HI human capacity. Hence, they have developed their own national eHealth capacity-building strategies. Implementing the strategies requires direct leadership by Higher Education Institutions in the relevant countries. 

Neither Moi University nor Makerere University have formal Masters or PhD programs in HI. Currently there are not enough highly trained local faculty to support PhD level training in HI, hence there is a need for partnership with Bergen University to establish these programmes. While Moi University has strengths in health aspects of informatics, there are gaps in foundational computer science aspects of informatics that can best be filled by Makerere University School of Computer Science and Information Technology, who needs complementary experience in HI.

Establishing self-sustainable, replicable and scalable Health Informatics training and research programmes through institutional collaboration in East Africa.
The project will aim to develop capacity at Moi University and Makerere University to deliver education programs and research in order to strengthen the e-Health (electronic health) systems in Kenya and Uganda. In order to produce reliable and important information and new knowledge about the health situation in these countries, development of human capacities and research within this area is essential and research practicums will be a core part of the HI-TRAIN Masters and PhD programs. This will assist governments and health scientists to produce policies that will help improve individual and population health care, first and foremost in Kenya and Uganda, but it could also have impact on the entire East Africa in the long run.

Moi University is a leader on HI in sub-Saharan Africa. The Open MRS system was initially developed for this setting and there is already broad use of mobile technology at Moi. Moi’s MoH affiliated AMPATH-program provides a perfect set up for research programs, and further, the University through the REACH (Regional East African Center for Health Informatics) program is also already engaged in capacity building through training of developers and data managers in eHealth.  Makerere staff has participated as trainers in this program. The HI-TRAIN project will thus merge two collaborative networks with very strong complementary strengths; the network of Moi University and its collaborating partners and Makerere University - University of Bergen and its collaborating partners.

HI-TRAIN is an interdisciplinary programme that takes a regional and collaborative approach to improve faculty-level HI training and research. Rather than working in parallel and isolation, it is important that different educational institutions, scientific disciplines and countries comes together to develop methods and knowledge in HI informed by a variety of relevant perspectives. In this way the competencies at Moi University and Makerere University will complement each other.

The project will ensure that gender issues are comprehensively addressed and special support will be provided for child care, maternity leave, mentoring and networking for female students. Gender perspectives will be included in all leadership training for the NORHED project. A target is to reach at least 50 % female participation in the Master and PhD programmes and to offer at least 50 % of the PhD fellowships to female faculty in order to reach gender equity.