Ministry of Health launches new Information System
September 21, 2010
Ministry of Health launches new Information System

A Health Information System (HIS), aimed at delivering improved health services throughout the state, has been launched.{{more}}

The new electronic system was launched on Thursday, September 16, at the Ministry of Health Conference Room.

Sehon Marshall, a member of the project team, said the system has three components: Software, hardware and network.

The software was procured by ASTES Tech of Canada, who won provision of this component during open tender.

Phase one of the hardware component has been awarded to a company that was not disclosed, while phase two is being advertised in the media.

Marshall explained that the networking component involves the linking of health centers throughout St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

Minister of Health and the Environment Dr. Douglas Slater said the Government is very responsive to the needs of Vincentians.

He said ingenious efforts had to be done in getting the Health Information System going. The new system is estimated to cost $2.3 million dollars. It is part of a bigger project that is being financed by a loan from the World Bank at over $20 million.

Slater said: “This loan was principally to fight the scourge of HIV/AIDS, but we were able to negotiate with the lending agencies, mainly the World Bank. …We had to negotiate with them to be able

to use some of this money, just not to treat directly HIV/AIDS, but also to use the opportunity to upgrade the quality of health care delivery.”

In addition to the loan, he said that the state also provides counterpart financing.

Slater said frankly that information is sometimes difficult to be found at the various health institutions across the state.

This project, he said, is also geared at eliminating some of those problems and inconveniences.

Slater stated that it would also result in the better distribution of medication.

The minister said the aim is to use the new electronic HIS to faciliate an easier flow of communication with all health institutions in St.Vincent and the Grenadines . He explained that if someone went to a district health centre, the information would be stored in such a way that if they later go the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital, the health care professionals will be able to access the information.

Project Manager Lisa Llewellyn mentioned that every health care worker attached to the HIS which started on January 12, 2010, are expected to be confidential. She said they will be asked to sign a policy and adhere to it. Llewelyn added that the system would have limited access.

Supplier’s representative and president of ASTES Tech, Nick Rutter, said that the HIS is expected to bring improved health to St.Vincent and he Grenadines.

Epidemiologist Dr. Jennifer George said that this project would benefit the general public of St.Vincent and the Grenadines. She said that some of the benefits include disease surveillance and monitoring of toxic habits. It will also benefit healthcare workers, who having to provide reports to external agencies will be able to monitor all indicators simultaneously.

She also said, “Measuring health is very complex. The health system is going to allow us to have a standardised way of reporting and documenting what we do within our hospitals, and our district clinics, and our new polyclinics that will be coming onboard.

“Patients are the priority of the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, and as a result, the Health Information System will be a big benefit to Vincentians”. (DC)