In late August 2010, the OpenMRS community and the REACH Informatics team led a training week in Eldoret, Kenya at the facilities of the USAID-AMPATH Partnership, one of the developing world’s largest and most successful health care programs to fight HIV/AIDS. The week-long training event attracted 15 participants from Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana, Kenya, and Sudan — ranging from skilled IT professionals to system implementers to a clinical doctor with interest in informatics.
Having worked in an IT capacity for some time in a clinical environment, I attended the training hoping to not only help in implementing and supporting OpenMRS, but also to contribute as a developer. I have an interest in building capacity to address programmatic issues both in bugs and to improve OpenMRS functionality by developing add-on modules. I intend on joining the OpenMRS family to share the vision — and through my contributions, will hopefully help many others achieve better results from their EMR’s.
Content of the training was well structured with presentations, lectures, commentaries, and workshops. All levels were covered from the web to API to database with the interfaces linking all the three in good detailed format. Topics included HTML, JQuery, Java, OpenMRS API, SQL, and OpenMRS module development. The nature and depth of the content was satisfying and only generated more interest.
The course mainly used a hands-on approach. I developed a lot of confidence in diving into programming in the Java language, which OpenMRS is built on — and I am now heading down the path of understanding the OpenMRS API. Slowly but surely, I’m on the way to working on a module for starters, which is a great thing.
At the close of training, all of us who participated wanted to still stay for more sessions! While we appreciated the content and the depth at which information was covered, we suggested additional time for subsequent trainings. Those of us who participated are continuing to stay in contact via a mailing list in order to share ideas, to interact more, and to share future challenges.
Only a quarter of the participants found out about the training through the national daily advertisements while the remaining accessed the information through online and email announcements. Trainers included OpenMRS community members from Regenstrief Institute including Ben Wolfe, Jeremy Keiper, Win Ribeka; and James Kariuki from AMPATH.
REACH Informatics is a project developed to train personnel of different levels interacting with the health care system and data within East Africa. Topics range in application from data managers to data analysts to programmers giving an all around preparation. This ensures there are teams that are well-equipped to effectively implement, run, and support health care IT systems. REACH Informatics is funded by the Fogarty International Centre at the US National Institutes of Health. More information is available at http://reach.ampath.or.ke/.
Lawrence Misoi is a data manager for pharmacy systems at AMPATH in Western Kenya.