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Meet the non-profit transforming Rwandan healthcare

Meet the non-profit transforming Rwandan healthcare

The government of Rwanda is developing quite a reputation in the tech space, partnering with drone operators, electric motorbike providers and incubation hubs to drive development.

Its latest partnership is in the healthcare space, where it is working with the Ihangane Project, a Rwanda-based non-profit organisation founded in 2008 with the goal of facilitating community-driven solutions that strengthen national health systems.

The Ihangane Project's signature innovation is E-Heza Digital Health Record, Rwanda's first point-of-care digital health record, for which the organisation recently won grant funding from the MIT Solve initiative.

Created alongside frontline health care workers and the Rwandan Ministry of Health, E-Heza aims to dramatically improve maternal and child health outcomes by giving nurses the tools they need to adopt evidence-based clinical care protocols, provide high quality care and utilise real-time data trends to both tailor health education to individual family needs and improve the healthcare delivery system.

Designed for replication throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, E-Heza is on a mission. The technical platform will link to the Rwanda Ministry of Health District Health Information Software (DHIS2) platform to improve efficiency of data reporting and eliminate cumbersome reporting, and the software will be made available on an Open Source platform in order for it to eventually serve as a low cost, high quality digital health record for all primary care provided at health centres in Rwanda.

"The concept of E-Heza emerged from the desire of the Ihangane Project and nurses in Ruli, Rwanda to sustain and replicate our successful clinical quality improvement programme, initially created to improve the quality of care for HIV-positive pregnant women and their children," said Wendy Leonard, executive director of the Ihangane Project.

According to the Project, as a result of these efforts, the quality of care improved by 120% in three years, leading to elimination of mother-to-child HIV transmission and a 60% drop in new cases of malnutrition.

Meanwhile, nurses and mothers became actively engaged in collecting, analysing and responding to health data.

"Nurses are now empowered with skills to improve their systems of care and mothers are inspired to adopt and sustain healthy behaviours," Leonard said.

"These same nurses and mothers have become intimately involved in the development and testing of E-Heza Digital Health Record."

E-Heza is being piloted in nine health centres in the catchment area of Ruli District Hospital to serve the needs of all mothers and children, including those who are living with HIV. Leonard said it will expand to an additional 14 health centres in the Nemba catchment area later this year.

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