Tanzania Advances Use of HR Management Software: Part 1

iHRIS Developer, Carl Leitner, recently traveled to Tanzania to provide technical assistance for the country’s implementation and use of iHRIS Manage. The Tanzania Human Resource Capacity Project, a Capacity Project Associate Award, is supporting the deployment of iHRIS Manage by the Christian Social Services Commission's (CSSC), the Prime Minister's Office of Regional and Local Governance (PMO-RALG), and the Zanzibar Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. During his trip, Carl visited both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar. This is the first of three blogs about his trip.


On April 27-29, Carl worked with the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) to conduct a three-day training for local developers.  He co-led the training with Dr. Juma Lungo, a professor in the Department of Computer Science at UDSM.  Building on a previous training held in October 2009, the developers learned how to write detailed use cases, use the I2CE framework which runs the iHRIS Manage database, add new forms and fields, and develop custom reports. Carl also walked the developers through creating a new ‘Dependents Module.’ This coded-in-country module meets the specific needs of the PMO-RALG and will allow iHRIS Manage to track information on health worker dependents, such as their gender and date of birth.

At the training, Dr. Lungo presented a proof of concept to address a prevalent issue with ‘soft loans’ – when the government doesn’t pay health worker salaries on time. This is obviously a burden for health workers, especially those who work in rural areas and may have to travel long distances to pick up their paychecks. If their paycheck is not ready, they waste the time and money spent on travel. Therefore, several of Dr. Lungo’s students developed a method for rural health workers to send an SMS message to check on the status of their paychecks. The SMS message will query the iHRIS Manage system and provide confirmation for the health worker. This solution will be tested in the upcoming months.

It is important to highlight that all the training materials and presentations were developed with the emerging Health Information Building Blocks (HIBBs) standards in mind. HIBBs development is a new area of work being led by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). It is a distance-learning initiative that supports clinical and health informatics training in low-resource countries, with the understanding that informatics can enable better community care and public health services. HIBBs content should be one to four hours in length and in a reusable, modular format offered via web-streaming, on CDs or as software designed for handheld devices.

The UDSM training had many positive outcomes. First, the local developers now have the skills needed to create their own modules, similar to the Dependents Module. The work completed during the training will contribute to the core iHRIS software code – the Dependents Module will be included in the next release of iHRIS Manage. Carl and others working on the global CapacityPlus project will reuse the training materials as a basis for a future e-Learning course to be posted on the HRH Global Resource Center. Finally, local developers were identified to help translate the software into Swahili, a prominent East African language.

You can view the training materials and presentations here.