Philip Gourevitch is not the only one who’s traveled to Rwanda recently and appreciated the extent to which it’s “a country looking and moving forward, not back.” This eyes-on-Singapore approach is particularly evident in the field of technology. The UN Foundation’s Claire Thwaites reports on one of Rwanda’s more encouraging public health-related tech developments:
Supported by the Rwandan Ministry of Health, Voxiva, and the Treatment Research and AIDS Centre (TRAC), TRACnet is an electronic records system that can be uploaded to mobile phones. In Masaka it is being used to track and record the distribution of anti-retroviral medications, ensure drug adherence, electronically create and submit patient reports, and access the most up-to-date information about HIV/AIDS care and treatment.
In Masaka, I was guided through the health clinic by the local program manager, Hareuhana Diaedonne. During the tour, Hareuhana spoke at length about the simple but significant benefits that have been brought about by the introduction of mobile phones to the local healthcare system. Using TRACnet, he reported, data entry that used to take months to record and aggregate now can be collected in just 5 minutes.
President Paul Kagame has made a point to emphasize that he thinks Rwanda’s way forward is through investment, not foreign assistance. Pushing mobile health technology seems like a perfect opportunity to both attract investment and improve the quality of the country’s public health care system.