High-Tech Donation Brings Digital Age To Southern Swaziland

Nhlangano – The UN World Food Programme and the Ministry of Health brought the information age to the main health centre of this ruggedly beautiful corner of Swaziland with a donation of state-of-the-art computers and IT equipment in July this year.

The equipment, valued at US$26,000, will be used at Nhlangano Health Centre in southern Swaziland as part of the Ministry of Health’s Health Management Information System (HMIS) initiative to collect patient health data electronically.

The equipment was handed over to the centre in a ceremony led by Swaziland’s Minister of Health Sibongile Simelane and WFP Country Director Heather Hill.

“We’re grateful to be a recipient of computer equipment that will play a useful function of strengthening and streamlining the collection, storage and reporting of health data, particularly on nutrition,” said Minister Simelane.

Hill paid tribute to the commitment of the Minister and health centre staff to introducing innovative solutions and delivering high quality health services to their patients.

Minister Simelane launched the computers and equipment with the click of a mouse, while local Member of Parliament Mthokozisi Kunene, a self-described “computer wizard”, gave her a virtual tour of the new software.

Following the launch, the Minister toured the centre, meeting patients and medical staff. She discussed patient’s concerns and ways to make the facility more efficient and patient-friendly. 

The programme, developed by HMIS, creates unique patient identifiers to quickly locate patient data. Two other clinics in the region will benefit from donated data cabling to create much-needed wired and WiFi networks to connect them to the health centre.

In the fight against HIV and TB, rapidly determining whether a patient is accessing the health care and nutrition services prescribed is vital to successful treatment. In rural Swaziland, with few digital health systems available, this process slows, as health care providers struggle to track patient care accurately.

WFP’s Food by Prescription programme last year delivered nutrition counselling and food to some 26,000 malnourished people on antiretroviral therapy and TB treatment and their families at 12 clinics and hospitals nationwide.  Funding for HMIS strengthening was provided by UNAIDS.

For more information on the handover, see article in the Swazi Observer.