MEDIC’s OpenIZ software helps Tanzanian clinics run more efficiently

MEDIC students work on Open IZ software project

Running a health clinic in Tanzania is about to get a little easier thanks to the work of software developers at Mohawk College’s mHealth and eHealth Development Innovation Centre (MEDIC).

MEDIC has built a digital immunization system that will help clinicians better keep track of a child’s vaccinations and manage medical inventory within clinics.

The digital setup will do away with a cumbersome system of clinicians spending hours at a time sifting through complex records to determine who is due for vaccinations and how many children to expect on set immunization days.

It will also eliminate the need for clinicians to call around in search of vaccines to ensure there are enough supplies in house to meet demand.

“This is the largest project we’ve taken on in terms of sheer effort,” said Paul Brown, MEDIC general manager.

The system, called OpenIZ, was deployed in July 2017. MEDIC worked with PATH, an international non-profit with a mandate to better the health of women and children through innovations in vaccines, drugs, diagnostics, devices, and systems and services innovations.

“Many countries don’t have the ability to run these projects on their own,” Brown said. “They’re relying on charities and NGOs to provide funds. It’s a partnership between the stakeholders, developers and the ones who have the money.”

In order to overcome the obstacles of putting a hard copy record system online where Internet service is spotty, Brown said OpenIZ has been built on the idea that working offline “is regular mode.”

All data put into the system by a clinic, such as inventory and who’s received vaccinations, is synched with others in the region on a monthly basis. Tablets used to record and store the information until synching happens are solar powered to ensure they always work.

OpenIZ isn’t just a game changer for public health in Tanzania. Closer to home, it’s provided practical and impactful experience for MEDIC’s software developers. Many are in the early days of their careers and are Mohawk graduates, like Nityan Khanna, the project’s senior developer.

“To be involved in this project is an amazing opportunity for me on a personal and professional level, because I'm solving real world problems that are affecting people around the world,” Khanna said. “From a professional level, being a part of this project allows more exposure to build scalable systems in order to increase and develop enterprise-level solutions while leveraging the benefits of open source software development.”

Quick Facts

  • Nearly half a million patients are in the OpenIZ system since deployment
  • Almost five million vaccinations or supplements have been recorded to date
  • 1,200 active clinics are using OpenIZ in Tanzania

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