First Annual iHRIS Academy Hosted by University of Dar es Salaam

The first annual iHRIS Academy, organized by Dr. Juma Lungo and hosted at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on August 12-16, 2013, was conceived as a way for iHRIS implementers and developers to share field experiences as well as quick solutions to common problems.

The Academy exemplifies the kind of bootstrap community involvement and engagement that iHRIS is calling for as it retools its focus from creating iHRIS products to strengthening and supporting the growing iHRIS community.

“We realized, because of the growing demand among our computer science students to become iHRIS software developers, that there is an opportunity to reach many people,” said Dr. Lungo. Broadening and strengthening the community that supports iHRIS products is a key measure of success if iHRIS is to see universal and reliable healthcare become a reality.

“In this Academy,” said Dr. Lungo, “we have twenty-nine confirmed participants, representing seven African nations.” One of the topics most deeply explored at the Academy was solving country-specific challenges in implementing iHRIS.

Educating and training local “champions” -- those who prepare others to implement and use iHRIS tools -- is a linchpin in universalizing health workforce information solutions and enabling ownership of health interventions, not just in Tanzania, but across the continent and beyond.

Participants from Tanzania, Botswana and Rwanda talk open-source shop at the first annual iHRIS Academy in Tanzania.

The wide demographic spread of those enrolled at the iHRIS Academy demonstrates the broad demand for iHRIS training, and IntraHealth International made this promise a reality for many of the participants who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend, offering generous financial support.

The group separated into two tracks: an intensive developer track and an implementer track.

The implementers visited leading installations of iHRIS in Tanzania, including Kinondoni, the largest local government authority in Tanzania, which has entered more than 8,000 civil worker records in iHRIS.

The implementers also visited the Christian Social Services Commission (CSSC), a faith-based organization (FBO) that uses iHRIS and covers 40 percent of Tanzania’s workforce.

Academy participants received certificates from the University of Dar es Salaam, College of Information and Communication Technologies.

IHRIS Academy participants are excited to be hosted by UDSM's newest college.

Asked about his greatest hope for the Academy, Dr. Lungo replied: “The most significant contribution of this Academy is the potential for an accelerated transition from classroom learning to influencing external policy” in the human resources for health (HRH) sector.

Dr. Lungo also envisions the Academy engaging private enterprise. “My vision is to see iHRIS customization go to small-scale companies. Instead of iHRIS being implemented by government institutions, local private companies should lead the development of the software.”

As Dr. Lungo reviews the results of this month’s first Academy at Dar es Salaam and prepares for next year, another locally grown iHRIS training is just in the offing. The West Africa Health Organization (WAHO) is hosting an “iHRIS Basic Training” course from September 24-26 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.