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Health information systems interoperability in Africa: service oriented architectural model for interoperability in African context
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Africa has been seeing a steady increase in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) systems deployed in health care institutions. This is evidenced by the funding that has been going into health information systems from both the government and the donor organisations. Large numbers of national and international agencies, research organisations, Non- Governmental Organisations(NGOs) etc continue to carry out studies and develop systems and procedures to exploit the power of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in public and private health institutions. This uncoordinated mass migration to electronic medical record systems in Africa has created a heterogeneous and complex computing environment in health care institutions, where most of the deployed systems have technologies that are local, proprietary and insular. Furthermore, the electronic infrastructure in Africa meant to facilitate the electronic exchange of information has a number of constraints. The infrastructure connectivity on which ICT applications run, is still segmented. Most parts of Africa lack the availability of a reliable connectivity infrastructure. In some cases, there is no connectivity at all. This work aims at using Service Oriented Architectures (SOA) to address the problems of interoperability of systems deployed in Africa and suggest design architectures that are able to deal with the state of poor connectivity. SOA offers to bring better interoperability of systems deployed and re-usability of existing IT assets, including those using different electronic health standards in a resource constrained environment like Africa.
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