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How cloud computing can save babies’ lives in Kenya: HP teams up with President Clinton

We've written here before about the ability of information to save lives, and today we're happy to share a new example of how HP is putting those ideas into practice.

 

Today, HP and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) announced a partnership to provide a new cloud-based system that will speed up the turnaround time for HIV test results for babies in Kenya, allowing for earlier treatment - and ultimately saving lives.

 

Under the current system, results of HIV tests are delivered on paper by courier. By taking advantage of IT – including HP datacenters, new database software, real-time analytics and SMS-connected printers – the system will reduce the turnaround time dramatically. Results will be available online and delivered to healthcare workers via SMS-enabled printers in just one to two days vs. the three months it can take today in rural areas of Kenya.

 

How does it work?

HP collaborated with CHAI to design a system that uses cloud computing to improve the tracking process and make test results available in real-time. HP is providing networking, storage, and servers to power five datacenters across Kenya, along with PCs and SMS-connected printers for healthcare workers

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(view the full size image)

 

With support from HP, students at Strathmore University in Nairobi developed a custom

database application used in the system.  At each lab, the processing of field information and capturing of testing data will become automated using this application, which generates a unique barcode for each sample of field data. As soon as the testing machine provides results, they are made available online and sent to healthcare workers via GSM/SMS printers in the field, and subsequently communicated to patients.

 

How could this save lives?

 In Kenya, approximately one out of every ten pregnant women is HIV positive. That means that of the 1.3 million children born in Kenya each year, more than 120,000 have HIV-positive mothers. Without intervention, there is up to a 45 percent chance that an infant born to a mother with HIV will become infected.

 

Due to the high rate of HIV in Kenya, all infants are required to be tested for the disease before they are six weeks old. However, the current testing procedure is paper-based and results, which are delivered by courier, can take up to three months to arrive in rural areas.  This delay reduces the efficacy of life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART), which needs to be started immediately following a diagnosis.  For example, an HIV-positive infant who does not receive ART has less than a 50 percent chance of living to see his or her second birthday.

 

What is the impact of this program?

The HP/CHAI project will:

– Expedite the delivery of test results from two to three months in rural areas to just one to two days

– Increase the number of children who are diagnosed with HIV and put on treatment from 45,000 in 2009 to 70,000 in 2011

– Increase the number of healthcare facilities that can access test result data from 1,500 to more than 3,000

– Connect data from four central labs to more than 20,000 healthcare workers via GSM/SMS

 

We expect that the HP/CHAI system for early infant HIV diagnosis will be replicated and scaled for use in other countries in 2011. In addition, it serves as a model for how IT could change the equation in the diagnosis and treatment of other diseases.

 

Quote from President Clinton:

“Technology and innovation are key to solving many of the most pressing challenges of our world, none of which are more urgent than a disease which takes the lives of 31 children every minute. I’m pleased HP’s technology and expertise will enable the partnership with CHAI to save the lives of more than 100,000 infants in Kenya each year, and in the process, demonstrate how the private sector can and should operate in the developing world.” 

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