Hewlett-Packard (HP), the Clinton Health Access Initiative and Kenya’s Ministry of Public Health have completed the rollout of a series of data centres to connect laboratories and health centres as well as to support disaster-recovery efforts.
Under HP’s Early Infant Diagnosis project, the partnership has set up five data centres that will have the computing and storage power to connect more than 1,500 health facilities and 20,000 health-care workers in Kenya and are designed to have an impact on the lives of infants.
The centres will be instrumental in the digitisation of government information such as data in the district health information system, which facilitates evaluation of public health performance, including vaccination coverage and mortality rate prevention for children under 5. “The data centre will facilitate provision of life-saving care to infants, accelerating access to life-saving technologies and helping the government build the capacity required for high-quality care and treatment programs,” said Ken Mbwaya, MD of HP East Africa.
Mbwaya said that the data centres will have HP Generation Seven servers and core switches, allowing connectivity to all types of networks, internal and external, and HP ProCurve switches to improve the LAN at Afya House (the Public Health Ministry headquarters). In addition, Fibre Channel storage will allow for storage that is separate from the servers and will support other, previously existing servers. Tape backup systems will allow for automated backups.
“This data centre is unprecedented in the history of the Health Ministry and represents the biggest investment in IT to date; as technology improves, so does the quality of life, therefore the ministry is willing to embrace technological advancements that will help improve the health sector,” said Mark Bor, permanent secretary of the Ministry of Public Health.
The data centres are expected to support other government ministries as well. The data centres already house key routing infrastructure for the country’s integrated finance management information systems (IFMIS), which are run by the Ministry of Finance.
The project is expected to have a major impact on HIV testing, after students from Strathmore University developed software and a database to allow blood sample results to be processed faster. “Instead of waiting for results to arrive by courier, doctors receive results via a text message sent to SMS [Short Message Service]/GSM [Global System for Mobile Communications]-enabled HP printers located throughout rural areas,” added Mbwaya. “Results can arrive in just a few days, which means infants can receive lifesaving treatment in good time.”
The project is expected to strengthen other existing infrastructure around the Ministry of Public Health, in order to fully integrate with the data centre infrastructure.