Cell Technology & the Entrepreneurial Spirit
There are many reasons why the entrepreneurial spirit of the African people is so strong. One of the most important is that they have always had to be resourceful. In a continent where resources are often scarce, they have learned to make do with what they have and to find creative solutions to problems.
This resourcefulness has helped them to build businesses that are not only successful but also have a positive impact on their communities. They are using their entrepreneurial skills to create jobs, provide essential services, and empower others.
The entrepreneurial spirit of the African people is an inspiration to us all. It shows us that, no matter what the circumstances, it is possible to create something from nothing. It is a reminder that, with determination and hard work, anything is possible.
I remembered this one day recently while working with a colleague on a project involving Community Health Workers (CHWs), because we know they are in short supply of tools to do the work that is expected of them (GHPS Journal). His team had designed an application for them in a module designed for smartphones. After reviewing the proposal, I asked my colleague how long it would take for the population using the app to really find value in it. The proposal said they would have a month. For a few reasons, I asked myself, “was a month enough?”
I am embarrassed to say that one thought that popped into my ethnocentric mind was “will these rural folks need extra time to learn the app?” It didn’t take me long to answer that for myself. The question started me thinking about the people I have met during my time working on the continent. I realized it might be more of an issue of access to the application and smartphone connection problems. Full 4G coverage has still not been implemented. We can solve the access to the application problem by making it offline.
CHWs – The Backbone of Healthcare
CHWs are a valuable part of the Ugandan health system. Every day CHWs are engaging people who need medical attention or need of CHW knowledge. Yet, they are not compensated. They receive small payments and gifts of appreciation from local community members. Though this may be “under the table”. They survive this way. CHWs spend time in training. When new health messages are released it comes down to the CHWs to deliver. On training days they are compensated for their time and transport. They are volunteers. A simple smartphone after a period of service with a useful application would in-and-of-itself pay for much of the time they spend volunteering as a CHW. I digress.
We were speaking of the Innovative spirit in Africa… I remember sitting in numerous coffee shops and hearing the surrounding conversations about business dealing. Everyone is an entrepreneur. There’s the guy who has access to the matoke he can have it brought in on a lory, the woman next to me is looking for support to open a tailoring shop.
The innovative spirit isn’t just in the city. During a research project, I managed I frequently traveled upcountry to a rural hospital where I had three students stationed. The Kisiizi Hospital backdrop was a beautiful landscape deep in the mountains bordering Rwanda. Nestled under a waterfall, for years the hospital had used it for power. But, alas there was no internet and no cell tower.
We did learn of a place at the top of the mountain where people could get a cellphone signal. I always visited the place daily during my site visits. The first time I went there was in December 2002. There was nothing on the mountainside, only a naked pad where callers had worn down the grass to a hard dirt surface. Clearly a good spot for a phone signal. The mountains were clear and I could see far away from the cliff-side view. The air was fresh. I took in a deep breath, made my call to the next town I was traveling to, and went back to the rural hospital where I was working, without a second thought.
Embracing Cellphone Technology
The next time I visited, an internet cafe complete with a solar disk had plopped inside the hospital campus. It worked some of the time. So, it wasn’t so dependable, and there was still no phone signal.
We walked or rode the mile or so up to the top of the mountain to make our call each afternoon. On the second visit, I noticed someone had put a handmade podium standing in front of the worn spot and a path that ran the length of the mountain cliff we stood looking over to make our calls. The next visit there was someone there in a booth selling airtime. The next time I went there were three booths.
When we think about rolling out software applications in Africa to solve healthcare and agricultural challenges they face, more and more I think about that experience. I saw the ingenuity. It helped me to recognize the entrepreneurial spirit of these communities. So when I think about putting a new application or new technology into the hands of this entrepreneurial spirit, I know we can solve problems.
Software Applications in Africa
Software applications are becoming increasingly popular in rural Uganda as a means of improving healthcare services. By providing access to medical records and allowing for more efficient communication between providers and patients, software applications are helping to improve the quality of care in rural areas. In addition, software applications are making it possible for providers to reach more patients through telemedicine services. By increasing access to healthcare services, software applications are playing a vital role in improving the health of the population in rural Uganda.
With sub-Saharan Africa having the world’s second-highest mobile penetration rate (after Asia), there is a growing interest in using mobile technologies to improve healthcare delivery in the region. A number of software applications have been developed specifically for the African context, and are beginning to be used by healthcare providers in rural areas. These applications are making a difference in the lives of people who would otherwise not have access to quality healthcare.
Health Software used in Uganda
Healthcare workers are using software applications in various settings. One example of a software application that is making a difference in rural Uganda is Medi Tracker. Medi Tracker is an electronic medical record (EMR) system that helps health workers keep track of patient information. The system is designed to work offline, so it can be used in areas with limited or no internet connectivity. Medi Tracker is helping to improve the quality of care in rural Uganda by providing healthcare workers with quick and easy access to patient information.
Another example of a software application that is making a difference in rural Uganda is mClinica. mClinica is a mobile platform that connects pharmacies, distributors, and manufacturers with each other. The platform helps to improve the efficiency of the supply chain for medicines and medical supplies and provides real-time data on stock levels. This information is critical for ensuring that patients in rural areas have access to the medicines and supplies they need.
Software applications are making a difference in the lives of people in rural Uganda by providing access to essential healthcare services. These applications are helping to improve the quality of care in rural areas, and are playing a vital role in improving the health of the population.
The African innovative and entrepreneurial spirit is important to the rollout of software to connect community health workers with the knowledge, and support in the field, reaching the rural population. By providing access to medical records and allowing for more efficient communication between providers and patients.
One of the biggest challenges in the existing system is getting CHW referrals. Referrals are data points in the assessment of nutrition program coverage for example.
CHWs also need tools to treat or refer patients. software applications are helping to improve the quality of care in rural areas. In addition, software applications are making it possible for providers to reach more patients through telemedicine services. By increasing access to healthcare services, software applications are playing a vital role in improving the health of the population in rural Uganda.
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