Nº 4 2013 > WSIS Forum 2013 - Success stories from partners
Hewlett-Packard's early infant diagnosis project
Improving testing and treatment for babies exposed to HIV
When new-borns are diagnosed with HIV, there is no time to wait. If they do not get treatment right away, half of them will not live to see their second birthday. Yet all too often, infants in some developing countries die because outdated, paper-based systems delay test results, diagnoses and the care they need.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) was pleased to participate in WSIS Forum 2013 and hear from WSIS stakeholders how its technology could be used. The company showcased its “Field Office” kit and “ePrint” wireless citizen kiosk for emergency situations and for empowering citizens in remote locations. HP believes that the private sector, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other civil society representatives need to work together more to address today’s most pressing societal challenges. Such a partnership can make a huge difference in people’s lives, as shown by HP’s Early Infant Diagnosis project in Africa.
Better technology for faster test results
Working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the Kenya Ministry of Health, HP developed its Early Infant Diagnosis project to speed up early testing and treatment for infants exposed to HIV. The project automates the HIV testing process, giving babies a better chance of survival by speeding up the reporting of test results and thus enabling an early start of antiretroviral treatment. The project started in Kenya and has been expanded to Uganda and Nigeria. There are plans to use the project’s information technology infrastructure for surveillance of other diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis.
Through better use of technology, it is possible to improve access to life-saving information and quality care, reduce barriers and strengthen health systems across the globe. Programmes such as the Early Infant Diagnosis project show how a positive impact can be made on global health by rethinking processes and innovating solutions with governments, universities and NGO partners.
Six modern HP data centres linked to Kenya’s national laboratories provide a platform to speed HIV data transmission. Students from Strathmore University in Nairobi developed a custom database application to make HIV test results quickly available online and to enable real-time tracking and analysis. An innovative solution enables test results to be sent from the national laboratories via text message to an SMS-enabled printer, in each local clinic, where it can be printed out immediately. These all-in-one HP printers are equipped with special modems that connect to 3G networks, overcoming the lack of Internet or fixed broadband connectivity in rural areas. The use of SMS to send and receive test results is key in the project, because even clinics without Internet access can receive SMS messages.
Diagnostic health reporting has been accelerated from several months to fewer than 30 days. More than 200 000 infants have been tested in Kenya and Uganda since 2011. Approximately 10 per cent of the tested infants were diagnosed as HIV positive and put on antiretroviral treatment immediately. The expansion of the Early Infant Diagnosis project enables early HIV testing of hundreds of thousands of infants in Africa and gives them the chance to be put on early treatment and survive. The existing infrastructure is also being utilized to roll out viral load testing, a critical diagnostic test for the more than 600 000 patients living with HIV and AIDS in Kenya. Viral load testing guides clinicians on treatment options and helps save lives by identifying treatment failure early enough to potentially change treatment before a patient’s health deteriorates.