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Open source lab IT system spreads its wings across Africa

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The C4G BLIS diagnostic lab software has now been adopted by 27 hospitals across sub-Sarahan Africa. Most usage is in Ghana, with multiple labs in Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and the DRC also using the customisable and simple to use system.

C4G BLIS is a free, open-source laboratory management system, designed to be ultra-configurable to meet the highly varied needs of laboratories across developing countries. It is also designed to require minimal training for laboratory staff with no prior computer experience, in environments with little or poor internet connectivity and without constant power. It allows laboratories to incorporate standardization, as desired, at their own pace. An extensive reports system includes the ability to track prevalence rates of infections and could be a useful tool against the spread of disease.

BLIS

Computing-for-Good (C4G) is an initiative of the college of computing at Georgia Tech to address pressing societal needs using ideas and artifacts from computing. C4G BLIS (is available freely for download and use from http://blis.cc.gatech.edu

The BLIS system has several advantages over paper. It manages laboratory data from specimen receipt to report generation. It has a simple, intuitive user interface that requires minimal user training. It augments current practices (e.g., paper records) without imposing new burdens and it exposes trends/patterns that are not possible to see currently allowing regional and national officials to react to health risks or spreading infection quickly. There is a one time data entry reducing the burden for technicians/doctors and results in shorter waiting times for patients. There are fewer errors and results in more reliable results and allows quality control in record-keeping. Each patient’s history is easy to view and all samples can be tracked.

The C4G BLIS team is now lead by Santosh Vempala with significant contributions to development from Ruban Monu, Hiral Modi, Akshay Phalnikar, Amol Shintre, Naomi Chopra and GK Arun Kumar.