Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT and its development partners have rolled out an electronic health record (EHR) management for HIV and Aids patients to improve provision of medical care for people who are living with HIV.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care in partnership with the United States Embassy through its development partners have rolled out the EHR in five districts countrywide with Umzingwane district in Matabeleland South among the first beneficiaries of the project.
The US Embassy is funding the project under its US$160 million President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR). A total of 83 clinics countrywide are part of the project.
Speaking during US Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mr Thomas Hastings’ tour of Esigodini District Hospital on Tuesday, Umzingwane District Medical Officer Dr Cleopas Makonese said EHR will come handy especially in the gold rich district which receives a lot of artisanal miners from across the country who sometimes disappear after getting treatment.
“However, this challenge (of patients disappearing) is going to be fixed with this EHR because wherever you move that record is going to be available for the next person to access. And for as long as they have accessed it, we will also be able to know that this person has also received care, so you will not be lost and you will be still in our system,” said Dr Makonese, whose hospital started implementing EHR three weeks ago.
He said even after a patient visits a different hospital or clinic, health officers would be able to track his or her previous medical treatment and determine what should be administered to the patient.
Dr Makonese said the manual records keeping made it difficult for health workers to effectively deal with patients who disappear from their system.
“What we want to do as health care officers is to have a patient, treat them and follow up on their treatment. We want to make sure that they are taking their treatment, see if they have gotten better or worse. But now a patient can get their treatment and go away and you can’t follow up to see if they are getting better or worse. And we feel like we have not accomplished anything on our part which is not good,” said Dr Makonese.
Mr Hastings said EHR was another positive step in ending HIV and Aids.
He said his government through PEPFAR will continue to support initiatives to end HIV and AIDS, although he did not state the amount channelled towards the EHR project.
“(Umzingwane) is one of the five districts in Zimbabwe where we are rolling out the EHR which is an important initiative at this stage in the fight against HIV and AIDS. We are moving away from paper records and have everything on computer so that they can be shared across the country. It’s especially important in this district, it’s a small district but with a very mobile population,” said Mr Hastings.
He said the goal is to have all the hospitals and clinics interconnected for effective management of patients’ [email protected]