An IT system developed by Strathmore University students in collaboration with technology firm HP, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the Ministry of Public Health & Sanitation has won the Justmeans Social Innovation Award for Most Strategic Use of Philanthropic Funds. This was announced at the 2012 Ceres conference held in Boston, USA on 25th April.
The system is an early infant diagnosis program. Approximately 1 out of every 10 pregnant women in Kenya is HIV positive. That means that of the 1.3 million children born in Kenya each year, more than 120,000 have HIV-positive mothers. Without intervention, there is up to a 45 percent chance that an infant born to a mother with HIV will become infected.
In the previous paper based diagnostic information communication system, results of HIV tests were delivered on paper by courier. By taking advantage of IT – including HP datacenters, new database software, real-time analytics and SMS-connected printers – the new system reduces the turnaround time dramatically because results will be available online and delivered to healthcare workers via SMS-enabled printers in just one to two days. Compare this to the three months it took using the previous system.
How does this save lives?
Due to the high rate of HIV in Kenya, all infants are required to be tested for the disease before they are six weeks old. However, the previous paper-based communication took up to three months to arrive in rural areas.
This delay reduced the efficacy of life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART), which needs to be started immediately following a diagnosis. For example, an HIV-positive infant who does not receive ART has less than a 50 percent chance of living to see his or her second birthday.
What is the impact of this program?
- Expedites the delivery of test results from two to three months in rural areas to just one to two days
- Increased the number of children who are diagnosed with HIV and put on treatment from 45,000 in 2009 to 70,000 in 2011
- Increased the number of healthcare facilities that can access test result data from 1,500 to more than 3,000
- Connect data from four central labs to more than 20,000 healthcare workers via GSM/SMS
The system can be replicated and scaled for use in other countries. In addition, it serves as a model for how IT could change the equation in the diagnosis and treatment of other diseases.
Receiving the award, Alan Nemeth, an HP Fellow and Chief Technologist for HP’s Enterprise Cloud Services - Unified Communication offering said the system was an example of how corporations can tackle some of the world’s toughest problems in a way that really benefits society by providing a platform for creative employees to collaborate both inside their organization and with outside organizations.
Nemeth stated that collaboration is "the most effective and sustainable way to solve problems." He added that the Early Infant Diagnosis program is a perfect example of collaboration in action, as it demonstrates the unique value that multiple stakeholders in public-private partnerships can bring to the table to create a positive impact on society and significantly benefit infant lives in Kenya.
Justmeans awards honor the global leaders that are tackling the world’s most pressing challenges through social innovation. Ceres is an NGO that mobilizes business leadership to ignite innovation and scale sustainability to build a healthy global economy. Together in Boston they showcased leadership and innovation in global citizenship.
Quote from President Clinton:
"Technology and innovation are key to solving many of the most pressing challenges of our world, none of which are more urgent than a disease which takes the lives of 31 children every minute. I’m pleased HP’s technology and expertise will enable the partnership with CHAI to save the lives of more than 100,000 infants in Kenya each year, and in the process, demonstrate how the private sector can and should operate in the developing world."