JSI’s Ethiopia Data Use Partnership Jointly Hosts the First IT Internship Program Appreciation and Exit Ceremony

December 18th, 2020 | News

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Addis Ababa (December 21, 2020): On December 21–22, 2020, the Ethiopia Data Use Partnership (DUP) will host the IT internship Program Appreciation and Exit Ceremony at the Skylight Hotel in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The DUP is implemented by JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. (JSI) in collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Regional Health Bureaus (RHB).

Celebrating the internship program’s contributions in improving digital health information tools at different levels of the country’s health sector, the ceremony also marks the program’s official transition into its next phase where interns will establish social enterprises that will continue to support a sustainable transformation of Ethiopia’s health management information systems.

The program, managed as a joint effort by DUP, MOH, and RHBs and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, recruited 180 recent graduates in IT, health informatics, computer science, and related disciplines from December 2019 to December 2020. Operating in all of the country’s regions, the program strives to:

  • Build optimal technical capacity of the health information system at health facilities, woredas, and zonal health offices.
  • Coordinate support between the health sector, Ethio-telecom, small businesses and microenterprises, and others relevant stakeholders to address current and long-term needs and ensure that the HealthNet infrastructure is fully functional.
  • Solve day-to-day problems and support digital health systems, such as District Health Information Software 2 (DHIS2), Electronic Community Health Information System (eCHIS), Electric Medical Records (EMR), and others, while building the technical capacity of health information technicians.

Ethiopia Data Use Partnership Intern working on her phone

DUP has been instrumental in spearheading the inception and development of the program, which at a national scale, is the first of its kind in the history of the Ethiopian health sector. Various program reports and evidence collected by DUP staff indicate that the program has been successful in meeting its major initial targets and has vitally bolstered the Ethiopian health system in digitalizing tools and transforming the data use culture. Her Excellency Mrs. Alemtsehay Phawulos, the State Minister of the Ministry of Health who has championed a culture transformation in health data quality and use said,

 “To address the human resource gap in the Health Information Technology (HIT), and to deal with multifaceted digital health infrastructure challenges, we need different workable models, and the IT Internship program is a good example of such engagements. This plays a pivotal role in addressing the IT manpower and management issues such as computer maintenance, software update, healthNet and connectivity.”

Besides building capacity, the program is widely hailed for its notable contribution in troubleshooting hardware and network issues and installing health information software, such as DHIS2 and eCHIS.

Dr. Hibret Alemu, Project Director of DUP, remarked on the program’s enormous success in regards to providing much-needed skilled IT human resources.

“Interns’ support in resolving issues related to HealthNet and other health information tools was magnificent. With its very compelling achievements, interns proved that they can be a reliable workforce to tackle the major outstanding issues related to health information tools, which under previous situations could have had the potential of derailing the whole effort of ensuring data quality and use.”

Group of interns

Apart from its primary goals, the program also significantly contributed to health emergency responses, including fighting the spread of COVID-19. Since the first case in Ethiopia, interns assumed a frontline role in supporting COVID-19 data management system. Interns also lent their efforts in training the Rapid Response Team Support (RRTS) on the COVID-19 tracking and surveillance digital tool. In Addis Ababa alone, interns trained more than 400 HIT professionals, doctors, and home-to-home data collectors on the COVID-19 DHIS2 and eCHIS trackers.

Importantly, the program, as hoped, has created the opportunity for the new graduates to gain valuable practical experience in the health sector’s processes, policies, and programs. The last year has helped them to transition and establish social enterprises that can continue to provide support to the health information system’s functionality.

The December 21-22 nd IT Internship Program Appreciation and Exit Ceremony offers the opportunity for health sector actors to come together and reflect on the program’s achievements and celebrate its contributions to the country’s health sector.

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