Award for use of ICT in Aids service
The Aids Treatment and Research Center (TRAC) has, with its website TRACnet, scooped the first prize at the 9th annual African ICT Achievers Awards which were presented in Johannesburg, South Africa on November 17. At the same time, President Kagame was rewarded for his dedication to ICT.
In a recent press conference, the Director of TRAC, Dr. Anita Assimwe, said that TRACnet was recognized as the best for its services and the ten PEPFAR countries were eager to borrow TRAC’s services.
TRACnet is an information technology solution; it is a bilingual ICT system that uses cell phones, text messages and a database to collect, store, analyze and disseminate program information, drug distribution and patient information related to the care and treatment of HIV and Aids. This helps to quicken HIV and Aids clinical services in a variety of health settings.
TRACnet was awarded as one of the top seven public sectors embracing ICT in Africa in 2007, and at the same event TRAC was declared the overall winner of the Top ICT Organization award.
On this occasion, President Paul Kagame was awarded with a lifetime achievers award for his dedication to the proliferation of the ICT industry in the country and across the continent, as well as the promotion of the use of technology within governments for better service delivery to the citizens.
Earlier this year, TRACnet was internationally recognized as a practical and sustainable model for the application of information technology to health program management, when it won the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s (Uneca) technology in government in Africa (TIGA) award for improved health services through ICT.
Asked how Rwanda would benefit from this award, Dr. Assimwe said that Rwanda has been recognized as a country that created this system which has shown significant yields, and the country is ready to share its experience with others following its achievements.
She added that the use of cell phones was seen as the most reliable and quickest means of communication and sending information for clinical services, especially for the care and treatment of HIV and Aids.
She also added that when Camerwa, the only licensed ARV (anti-retroviral) drugs distributor, brings in the medicine, TRACnet informs clinics to provide, direct and care for those who are on medication and to remind them to take these medicines regularly and on time to avoid mutation of the virus.
Asked what criteria the judges followed to name TRACnet as the winner, Dr. Assimwe replied that they had not been told. “I think it was partly because we were the only ones from the health sector, while others were from different public sectors,” she said.
Dr. Michael Kramer, the Director of TRACplus, explained that the use of cell phones is cheaper than laptops or computers, which are heavy and hardly connected; also, in parts of the country that have little connection, one could go up a hill to receive or send information rather than come all the way to Kigali.
Dr. Assimwe also remarked that they work with Terracom and pay USD 2,500 per month. For MTN, the services are free, and they were offered a toll-free number which is 3456 to simplify communication.
Though TRACnet faces some challenges like connectivity, Dr. Kramer said pointed out that this is not an obstacle that cannot be overcome. “The messages are stored and when connection is back, it is disseminated.”