Help OpenMRS Fight Malaria!

A study published last year by the American Journal of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene showed that malaria is still the major cause of death in Uganda with approximately 70,000 to 100,000 Ugandans dying each year from the disease.

Children receiving care at a health clinic using OpenMRS in rural Uganda. Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that malaria is still the leading cause of death in Uganda, accounting for over 27% of deaths.

Malaria caused an estimated 214 million cases and 438,000 deaths in 2015, mostly young children in sub-Saharan Africa. It contributes to poverty; in Africa alone, costs of illness, treatment, and premature death from malaria are at least $12 billion per year.

Malaria’s toll would be much higher without the efforts of CDC and other global partners. From 2000 through 2015, the massive scale-up of malaria prevention and treatment interventions saved approximately 6.2 million lives globally, and malaria death rates in Africa were cut by more than half. However, malaria remains a major public health problem, despite it being both preventable and treatable.

Children are particularly susceptible to devastating long-term effects of malaria. Children’s brains are developing rapidly and can suffer cerebral malaria. Cerebral malaria is the most severe neurological complication of infection with malaria. Some survivors of cerebral malaria have an increased risk of neurological and cognitive deficits, behavioural disorders, and epilepsy.

Malaria medication has been shown to improve cognitive function and school performance in clinical trials when compared to placebo groups. The identification of this disease and the administration of appropriate treatments and drugs requires accurate medical record keeping which is extremely difficult while using paper-based systems.

Fighting Malaria with OpenMRS

The public health armamentarium to fight this disease includes access to data and accurate medical record keeping. Electronic medical record systems like OpenMRS support the acquisition, utilization, aggregation, and analysis of health information. This data empowers local healthcare teams, as well as NGO and the Ministries of Health, to better identify patients who are at risk or infected, and provides an ability to track their longitudinal health status to target afflicted areas. Healthcare data and information supports the healthcare team to identify and implement changes that help combat the spread and infectivity of malaria. Data matters and OpenMRS is one technological tool to help ensure that data is available and accessible to those who need it, including the patients and their families.

Recently, a case study inspecting the Ebola epidemic and OpenMRS’ use in combating it was published. The use of OpenMRS allowed for actionable data, rapid response, and provided the foundation for readiness in the future. Having a free, open-source electronic medical record platform (EMR) gave these impacted health clinics the tools necessary to support patient care in an easy-to-understand electronic format. Data helped empower the respective Ministries of Health to develop healthcare policies to prevent the rapid spread of epidemics in the future.

Without an EMR, paper based records become lost, lab tests and treatments are either not completed or duplicated, and establishing an accurate medical history is near impossible.

Your financial support to OpenMRS goes toward 6 major areas: developing the infrastructure needed to enhance and run a sustainable electronic record keeping system; helping the OpenMRS community empower developers to actively support implementing facility around the world; foundational fees required to support our community; training and education for members of the OpenMRS community; meetings relating to OpenMRS development; and scholarships and travel grants to participate in OpenMRS opportunities.

The community of OpenMRS needs your financial support. We support an open source and global community dedicated to OpenMRS, an electronic medical record system used to improve healthcare delivery in areas afflicted with malaria. Your support will help accelerate our ability to provide needed development and functionality to the frontline healthcare teams actively combatting malaria.

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