Advanced developments are underway to see to it that the Zimbabwean health system becomes automated. The overall idea is to have aggregated data that can streamline the tracking and management of patients. Over 400 healthcare centres have been earmarked for this. This move will entail setting up a computerised system for the effective running of these healthcare centres. To ensure uninterrupted operation of this system, solar power grids will be set up to cushion against incidents of power outages. It is reported that the system is fully homegrown and experts working on it are local Zimbabweans.

Remarks By Minister Of Information, Publicity, And Broadcasting Services, Monica Mutsvangwa

Accordingly, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, with the support of partners, has developed a comprehensive, health-centric, and integrated national electronic health record system called Impilo for patient registration, patient management and evaluation, patient tracking, stock usage and tracking, and data aggregation, validation and analysis.

Impilo will be deployed at 5 central hospitals, seven provincial hospitals, 30 district hospitals, and 384 clinics across the country. It is pleasing to note that the Impilo Electronic Health Record System was developed by a 100 per cent Zimbabwean technical team and licensed under the Ministry of Health and Child Care. The system supports health workers in following clinical protocols for priority health services.

The launch of the solar health project previously reported at the 12th post-Cabinet press briefing will provide the back-up power to both the electronic health record system and internet connectivity services.”

She also touched on the COVID-19 pandemic situation regarding the opening of schools. She said the following:

In the primary and secondary sector, the nation is informed that all COVID-19 positive cases reported at Prince Edward, Sacred Heart, and Bonda Mission Schools have fully recovered. Most of the cases recorded at schools in Bulawayo Province since the beginning of the current school term have also recovered, with very few remaining active cases.

The standardised training modules for use in the upgraded COVID-19 training at all learning institutions have been finalized and the roll-out in all provinces is underway. Teacher attendance to work continues to be recorded and monitored daily and it is once again reiterated that government will continue to apply the no-work no-pay labour principle to all cases of teacher absenteeism.”

Automated Health System Long Overdue

It is good to hear that such a milestone has been reached. I remember several years ago wondering about the lack of automation in most of the institutions in Zimbabwe. Up to this day, I still wonder because you get to walk into some institutions and you still find systems being predominantly paper-based and manual. So this is a step in the right direction because automation does bring in some upsides. I believe this should spread to all institutions to streamline how things are done. It is also good to hear that this automated healthcare system, Impilo, is 100 per cent Made in Zimbabwe. This is something that is still in its infancy in Zimbabwe.

You go to most institutions and you will find that they prefer to outsource software development from abroad yet capable individuals are available here in Zimbabwe. I once worked at a particular organisation where they chose to outsource software development for a database management system (DBMS) from a Swiss team. Ironically, I had before that pitched that I could develop the same system and was given a bunch of funny reasons (e.g. we do not have the money). We definitely need to see a culture where homegrown expertise is given the platform.

It is also good to see the appreciation of using solar energy as a backup power plan. We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to leveraging solar energy in Zimbabwe. We have oftentimes heard of expecting mothers dying or patients dying due to power-related issues. We cannot have that happening in a country endowed with clear sunny skies for the most part. It is encouraging to see how more and more individuals, businesses, and institutions tapping into solar energy. Even the overall electricity power supply of Zimbabwe stands to benefit from solar farms; we need to see more of that.