Sulu and Sultan Kudarat pilot areas for Health ino tracking system

Dr. Alvin Marcelo, project manager of the Community Health Information Tracking System or CHITS Project of UP Manila's National Telehealth Center, said the provinces of Sulu in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Sultan Kudarat in Southwestern Mindanao have signified interest to use CHITS in their areas.

"We scheduled Sulu for February and Sultan Kudarat for March (next year)," Marcelo said at the sidelines of the first OpenHUBS Conference in Alabel, Sarangani last week.

CHITS is an extensible, modular, open source information system for rural health units developed by Dr. Herman Tolentino and his team at the UP Manila.

The software "collects existing routine health data from vertical programs in the Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) and integrates them into a unified, comprehensive computerized information system," the CHITS website said.

"Through CHITS, community-based health information is made available not only to public health agencies requiring community level information but also to the community itself which generates the information. It enables the community to use this information for local decision-making and health planning," it added.

Marcelo said CHITS essentially addresses concerns on making health care affordable and accessible to residents, especially those in the rural areas.

"The idea is that, through the technologies available, we may be able to access to places where there are no doctors and be able deliver various health services," he said.

Marcelo said the software will help build up an accurate and accessible electronic database for rural health centers.

He said its information system will help rural centers effectively manage their inventory of medicines, and eventually help track down the quality of care given to patients.

Marcelo cited past cases of rural health units accumulating huge losses in medicine purchases due to inaccurate databases.

To deploy CHITS, Marcelo said a rural health unit needs to come up only with at least three units of personal computers, a printer, a wireless router linked up to a standard computer network and a software.

He said the training will cost at least P50,000 for two years.

"But since we're using an open source software, the total cost would still be very minimal when compared to those using proprietary software," he said.

For the Sulu and sultan Kudarat projects, Marcelo said they will initially conduct training for prospective CHITS trainers in these areas.

He said these trainers will undergo a stringent certification process that is being standardized by UP Manila.

Marcelo said they are planning to later tap the certified CHITS trainers for deployment in other parts of the country.

As of November, he said CHITS has been deployed in at least 12 pilot municipalities in the country and about the same number have so far sent requests for coverage. (Allen V. Esabillo/MindaNews)