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Information and Communication Technology
Most Church hospitals were founded by different Mission organizations throughout Tanzania during the last century. These hospitals know little about each other and even the central office seem to have very little information about their activities. The Information and Communication officer started working in October 2003 in order to improve the flow of all information important to the function of the hospitals.
The first task undertaken was to create these homepages, which you are visiting. These websites are geared toward the outside world, because most church run hospitals in Tanzania do not have internet connection. In the future material for internal use will be added including a database of institutional activities for headquarters.
Medical books in most hospitals are quite old and they receive very few if any medical papers. However all the hospitals have computers and there is huge amount of medical information available in electronic format. We have collected available free medical CD-ROMs and made some ourselves from freely available internet sites. Most hospitals can use e-mail to receive electronic news.
Also WorldSpace digital radio is broadcasting medical material, which can be received everywhere in Africa. The cost of radio and adapter is only about 100$. The material broadcasted by Satellife/Healthnet is selected for developing countries and we distribute it on CD-ROM to our hospitals. Each hospital will establish a small resource center.
The only way to provide internet connection to district hospitals is to install satellite connection (VSAT). The investment is about 10000$ for one site and also bandwidth is very expensive.. We have some donor money for installation and by sharing the band between hospitals it is possible to build a hospital network and connect them to internet.
The hospitals have made their statistics manually and some have tried computerized system with locally made Hospital Management and Information Software (HMIS), but it has not been very successful. We are looking for new software. The major problem with any complex software is getting technical support to district hospitals where traveling may take 2 days. VSAT will be essential to give remote support. Most of the arising problems are quite simple and easily fixed remotely and users can get online support anytime.
More details on our ICT plans and activities is given in the IT section of ELCT Health Policy Guidelines.