Computer Science Department holds DHIS2 Workshop
The workshop targeted software development professionals doing research or working in the area of health information systems development. The workshop attracted participants from Malawi, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Zambia.
Facilitators at the workshop included John Mukulu (from Tanzania - University of Dar Es Salaam and HISP Tanzania), Tiwonge Manda and Brown Msiska (from Malawi), (Øystein Gammersvik from Norway, University of Oslo).
DHIS2 is an integrated open-source software platform that provides functionality for data capture, validation, and visualization (GIS, charts and pivot tables), through the web and over mobile applications linked to a web-server.
During their 10 day stay at Chancellor College, the participants had the opportunity to engage directly with the software. According to the Head of Computer Science department, Dr. Tiwonge Manda, “the workshop was highly interactive, with 25% theory and 75% practice”. Participants were also given the chance to make presentations on topics they are familiar with. Among the various topics discussed during the workshop were: DHIS2 Customization, data analysis and visualization, development of web portals, DHIS2 API and representation formats and software development tools.
The most crucial reason why staff in the Computer Science department decided to organize the workshop is due to the recognition that DHIS2 is implemented in more than 46 countries, but so far most of the software development work has been done by teams in Norway and Vietnam. Tanzania and India are also active contributors to the DHIS2 software development process. The current setup makes it very difficult for countries to ably respond to local software development needs that may not be a priority at international level.
The Computer Science department at Chancellor College is unique due to their experience with DHIS2. As the head of Department explains, “we in the Computer Science Department have extensive experience in software development and working with DHIS2. Over the past eight years, we have supported the Ministry of Health in customizing and implementing the national DHIS2 Health Management Information System. We also have experience facilitating international DHIS2 workshops.”
From the workshop, the hope is to develop capacity for DHIS2 software customization and app development, to address local and regional software development needs, in support of program monitoring and evaluation. “In particular,” stressed Dr. Manda, “those attending should be in a position to develop custom software apps for data capture, management, and visualization, on top of the DHIS2 software platform, to assist decision makers. It also hoped that those attending the workshop will have the skills to develop web-based information portals, through which NGOs or government agencies can provide program-specific information to the public and relevant international stakeholders.