Final year medicine students at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology have completed a week-long induction on health informatics, data analytics and GIS in healthcare. The training organized under the auspices of the USAID supported Health Informatics, Governance and Data Analytics (HIGDA) Project, was primed to expose the students to the importance of data analytics, visualization and use in healthcare delivery.
Despite the indispensable role of quality data in healthcare decision making and resource allocation, the training of health professionals in Kenya had not placed commensurate emphasis on the same.
HIGDA Project was formulated with this discrepancy in mind and it intends to equip learners as well as practitioners with skills and competencies to harness the power of data and electronic health information systems for the attainment of universal health coverage in the country.
As the training drew to a close on Friday December 7, 2018, the participants were full of appreciation. Many who had not mastered the correlation between data and quality healthcare delivery indicated the workshop was very useful.
Emanuel Alusiola said the training opened his eyes to the nexus of health and technology. “It is clear to me now that data runs the world. As healthcare practitioners, we must be responsible for data quality in order to deliver better services,” he opined.
“In our group, we also designed a mobile application that can remind mothers to take babies for immunization. It was an awesome experience,” Alusiola added.
Another student, Fatuma Ibrahim Wako could not hide her joy after the training. With a wide smile, she recounted how she would deploy the knowledge to better serve her nomadic community.
“My community move from place to place. It is very difficult to undertake even routine healthcare services. With GIS, it is possible to design systems that can easily locate and point them to nearest health facilities,” Fatuma revealed.
HIGDA Chief of Party Rose Nzyoka, urged the participants to proactively embrace automation and other decision support tools as they transition into different fields of practice.
“GIS for example makes it easy to map distribution of disease by place, aiding efficiency and better care delivery,” Rose said.
HIGDA Programme Coordinator, and Dean, School of Medicine, Dr. Reuben Thuo said the training gives the students a head start as contemporaries from other institutions have not gone through the same.
The content, Dr. Thuo added, not only improved the students’ employability index, but also made them better equipped to support Kenya’s healthcare delivery efforts.
The industry based training has seen a number of health sector personnel drawn from the counties re-tooled to entrench evidence based policy development, reviews and budget related decision making.
The students were also trained on health systems governance, electronic records management, and use of webinars for continuous professional development.