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Groundbreaking HIV treatment app launched

THE health ministries of Lesotho and Malawi have launched an Integrated Electronic Application (App) for HIV Treatment Guidelines. Launched at a glittering ceremony yesterday, the App is expected to transform how health workers access and share information.

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The App was funded by the European Union (EU) through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat under the Support to Industrialization and Productive Sectors (SIPS) initiative.

Mitch Investments of Malawi and Universal Health Information Consultants of Lesotho are the implementing partners.

The App, which is now available on Google Play Store as a free download, gives health workers access to standard HIV treatment guidelines in a digital and interactive format.

It has an interface where Health Ministries’ HIV departments share resources, update guidelines, and make announcements to health workers.

Once the App is installed, the guidelines can be downloaded for offline use.

The Malawi App adds an interactive platform that allows health workers to give real-time reports on adverse drug reactions and send stock status for medical supplies to the relevant authorities.

Dr Tapiwa Tarumbiswa, the HIV Programme Manager in Lesotho’s Ministry of Health, said the App is an innovative solution to the challenges that health workers in Lesotho and Malawi have experienced with accessing, carrying and maintaining hard copies of treatment guidelines.

“The App is the future we envisaged,” Dr Tarumbiswa said.

Dr Mahlape Tiiti, the Lesotho Health Ministry’s Director of Disease Control, described the App as “a critical tool for the health system”.

“It will enhance the access so much needed by our health force as they manage patients daily.

“Technology plays a crucial role in public health by improving access to quality care, enhancing data-driven decision-making and dissemination of technical information.”

“The App is only the beginning of great strides that can be achieved by harnessing technology in the health sector.”

Innocent Chamwalira, who is the SADC SIPS Project director and director of Mitch Investments, said the App was a result of 14 months of extensive, collaborative efforts of stakeholders that include Ministries of Health, Digital Health Departments, academia, pharmaceutical regulatory bodies, health workers and implementing partners.

Chamwalira said ”the App is indeed a game-changer in how information is shared with healthcare workers and transmitted between health facilities and HIV programmes”.

Calicious Tutalife, the Senior Programme Officer (Value Chains) at the SADC Secretariat said the App’s launch marks a key milestone in the implementation of the SIPS.

Tutalife said the SIPS is designed to support the achievement of the regional industrialisation agenda by focusing on improving the performance and growth of regional value chains and related services within the agro-processing and pharmaceutical sectors.

He said the App is a result of the SIPS’ grant to Mitch to develop a regional portal that not only benefits Malawi and Lesotho but the entire region.

He said the SIPS grant focused on funding research, innovation and technology transfer.

“The collaborative effort in the development of the App has demonstrated what regional integration is all about,” Tutalife said.

James Manyatera, the Principal Secretary of Malawi’s Ministry of Health said the APP is a perfect example of collaboration.

“The App will help in the fight against HIV as it will assist in making sure that healthcare providers can provide quality HIV services through increased access to the latest HIV treatment guidelines, reduced medication/dosage errors and enhanced side-effects reporting,” Manyatera said.

“It will further help in ensuring consistency of care among HIV patients by expanding access to treatment guidelines for healthcare workers.”

He said the App will play a pivotal role in helping Malawi achieve Universal Health Coverage.

“I strongly believe Lesotho and Malawi stand to benefit from each other if the two countries can improve how they share knowledge, expertise and resources, leveraging on each other’s strengths,” Manyatera said.

Staff Reporter

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