Position Paper: Researching and Developing Open Architectures for National Health Information Systems in Developing African Countries

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Most African countries have limited health information systems infrastructure. Some health information system components are implemented but often on an adhoc, piecemeal basis, by foreign software developers and designed to solve specific problems. Little attention is usually paid to how these components can fit into an integrated national health information system and interoperate with other components. The Health Enterprise Architecture Laboratory was recently established in the School of Computer Science at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa to undertake research and build capacity in open health architectures for developing African countries. Based on field experiences and requirements in South Africa, Mozambique and Rwanda, the laboratory is evolving a generic Health Enterprise Architecture Framework and Repository of Tools specifically for low resource settings. In this paper we describe these three initiatives and the expected impact on implementing health information systems in developing African countries.