It conference and meeting season and you can find Evelyn and I presenting at various events from South Africa to Nigeria.

OpenMRS Implementor’s 2010 Meeting in Cape Town, SA – Evelyn is in Cape Town learning and sharing the work that we have done on eHealth, using OpenMRS, in Nigeria.  You can follows #omrs2010 on Twitter to keep up with the dicussions.

MedInfo 2010 in Cape Town, SA – Look for Evelyn at MedInfo to see her present our paper:

Experience Implementing OpenMRS to Support Maternal and Reproductive Health in Northern Nigeria.
Date/Time: Monday, 13.Sep.2010 (10:30 – 12:15),
Room: 1.6.3 & 1.6.4
Chairman 1: Reti Shane Chairman 2: n/a.

4th Edition of Nigerian Conference on Telemedicine & eHealth (NICTe) – From September 16th – 17th you should be able to catch both Evelyn and I in Gombe.  I will present about or work on OpenMRS and other upcoming eHealth projects, and lead a hands-on session or two for those wanting a bit more detail on setting up EMRs.

Sociology major Evelyn Castle
Health sciences major Evelyn Castle (’12) on her last day at the health clinic in Kaduna, Nigeria. The clinic’s new records room includes two computers.

Over at eHealth Nigeria there is a new press release by the UC Santa Cruz Public Relations called “Students forging a new frontier in global health”.


It’s been a bit difficult to have consistent and/or reliable Internet access so this post is a little be overdue.  This post is a summary of some of the activities/projects that are planned or currently underway.

Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD,

At CITAD Ian Anderson ( and I are working on an directory of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs).  This will be hosted on-line and hopefully facilitate networking among international groups that need to find “on the ground” expertise.  The  goal is to have this ready for the conference that we’re attending in Abuja that will have 100 or so NGOs/CBOs in attendance.

The next project is to begin to move some of CITAD’s curriculum into and on-line learning environment (Moodle,  We’re working on a system of local hosting at CITAD so that students in the lab can take quizzes submit assignments, etc.  There will be and Internet-hosted version that will serve primarily to share the curriculum broadly.  To make some of this work effectively will be engaging in networking training and server setup with the CITAD lab as our hands-on project.

Lastly with CITAD we’re going to trial a small portable solar setup and begin to experiment with low-power computers.  We’re looking to have a plan for a low-power and zero-petrol lab based potentially on Inveneo (

Shehu Idris College of Health Sciences and Technology

Evelyn Castle ( and I are working with the Health Information Management Program at the Makarfi campus to provide introductions to the Open Medical Record System (OpenMRS) to see if it is an appropriate option for the school to 1) train other students on as part of the Diploma program and 2) as a patient record system for the local clinics they are partnered with.  In the same vein Evelyn wants to see if OpenMRS is a good fit for the free maternal and child health clinic that is operated by the Kaduna campus.

Also at the Kaduna campus are 3 medical program: Public Health Nursing, Midwifery and Reproductive Health.  These programs all have some ICT or basic computer skills components.  We’re currently reviewing the curriculum to see where we can begin to add to and revamp these materials.

We’re continuing to look at mobile tools for the health but this seems like it will take a bit more exploration.  We’re going to review some of the mHealth case studies that are available and mostly provide information or sensitization workshops for some key health staff.  Mostly we see the potential for portable mobile devices with data connections that can facilitate the collection of health information at the clinic and village level.

The 2 campuses that we’ve visited thus far have decent libraries but are in need of 1) more electronic resources (eLibrary) and 2) a library management system.  Some open source library management tools have been identified now we need to explore the feasibility of implementing.  Potentially this could be used to link all of the campuses libraries on-line.

Lastly Ian and I will provide some support in developing a website for the College so their programs and other resources can be available on-line for easier discovery and sharing.

Development Research Projects Center (dRPC, and the Leadership Development for Mobilizing Reproductive Health (LDM) Program

One of the core goals of this summer is to conduct research on the use of ICT for leadership development in the reproductive health field.  This involves identifying key fellows and strategic organizations within the LDM network and assessing their individual and organizational use of ICT.
Following this we’ll define goals for increasing ICT capacity and providing the necessary training, equipment and support.

MacArthur Foundation ( Workshop with the Berkman Center (, and Digital Bridge Institute

Interestingly I was introduced to Colin Macay at the Berkman Center that is working with MacArthur and the Digital Bridge Institute in hosting a 3 day workshop Abuja from July 14-16.  The workshops on ICT, human rights and health care are for MacArthur grantees from Nigeria and other African countries.  I’ll participate in a couple of discussions during the conference:
1. A discussion with Paul Lubeck, YZ Ya’u (of CITAD) and myself on the ICT projects underway with some emphasis on health initiatives.  Also we’ll discuss the development of international collaborative partnerships.
2. The second discussion I will provide for the general meeting (July 16) which will involve many more NGOs/CBOs from Nigeria.  I will discuss ICT-based project funding strategies focused on Nigerian RH and human rights groups.  I’m working also on identifying some specific information from Nigerian funders like MacArthur, Open Society Institute of West Africa and others.

The End and Other Stuff

It’s already been a very exciting trip to Nigeria.  There is still so much more to explore and learn and only 5 more weeks to do it.  I think I’ll start to explore ways to extend my trip.

I’m currently in Kaduna, Nigeria and heading to Markarfi tomorrow with Evelyn to visit the College.  I’ll most likely be back in Kano Tuesday night or Wednesday morning.   Send me emails and comments if you want more info or have other ideas and resources that might be useful.

On June 25th I arrived at Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano, Nigeria.  This is the begining of Part 2 of my work in Kano (and Northern Nigeria more broadly) exploring the intersections of information technology, reproductive health, education and leadership development.  With the Development Research Projects Centre (dRPC) and the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) in Kano as well as new partners in Kaduna, Zaria and Abuja this summer promises to be a very exciting and rewarding endeavor. More details, research notes and outcomes will be posted periodically.

Ian and Evelyn are my partners in this undertaking (their blog links are forthcoming) and have had a really exiting introduction to Kano filled with lots of rides on speeding okadas (motorcycles) through the “old city”, Kormi Market and around Nassarawa.

We are anxious to get our work started and experiment with new tools, ideas and methods.  We’ll be trying out mobile-based systems for collecting health care information and connecting people with educational materials as well as looking into alternative energy sources (I have a 70lb box of solar equipment that somehow made it through to Kano without a hitch).

While the Internet situation in Kano proves to be challenging I’ve had moderate success keeping up with e-mail so please feel free to send me your thoughts, ideas or let me know when/if you’re in Northern Nigeria so we can keep up.  If you can call shoot me and email for my Nigerian mobile number.  As always I’ll be available on chat via gmail, aim and skype when available.

mambayya house officesI finally had an opportunity today to visit Mamabayya House (Center for Democratic Research and Training), aka Scott‘s home for then next few months.  This place is built around the residence of the late Mallam Aminu Kano.  Mambayya House is located on a great compound that has a library, museum, restaurant, and guest apartments.  It’s located just outside of one the gates to the old city so the surrounding area has quite a bit more character than over here in Nassarawa GRA.  This visit gave me another glimpse into to really inspiring things that are happening here in Kano.  First we learned a lot about the programs at CDRT.  Their focus thus far is heavily on training: they organizing workshops, lectures, leadership training on the topics of democracy, good governance and civic engagement.  They even managed to publish in book format the combined lectures and papers from all of the large seminars they host (including the annual Aminu Kano memorial colloquium held in April each year and Murtala Mohammed memorial).  This is a fantastic amount of inspiring material that is not yet available anywhere except the little bookshop outside of the auditorium (soon I hope to see these online).  The research projects they have worked on or are working on are:

  1. What is the impact of Islamic Scholars (called Ulema) on government, law and civil society? This project was funded by the Federal government of Nigeria. This to me seems very interesting given the small amount I’ve learned so far about the involvement of Ulema in supporting maternal and child health.

  2. How are political parties in Nigeria funded? This to seems like such an appropriate question to ask and equally surprising that nobody yet knows. Enlightenment around this issue I think is really key for people having faith in this electoral system. The most fascinating part however was comparing what groups are doing around electoral organizing in the US and Nigeria. Our conclusion from the conversation was that there are a lot of technical differences but a lot of similarities in values and goals towards systemic social change.

The last project of CDRT that we learned about was a beginning collaboration with Freedom Radio Nigeria that is meant to come up with effective ways to start a discourse about the needs of public.

Training Updates

In other news we’ve had several trainings since my last writing one on simple office networking that covered wireless networking and security, file and print sharing with Samba using an Ubuntu Linux server, and setting up mDNS/ZeroConf (Rendezvous, Bonjour, Avahi) to get cool domain names like “citad.local” instead of We also introduced and played with installing Ubuntu Linux (which continued over into today). I went over installing but mostly everyone took to the live-cds and browsed around. There was an interesting discussion of languages and Scott and I spent sometime researching Hausa language software packages, which turned up next to nothing… except for the Ubuntu hosted software translations. I think there is potential here to develop some community around contributing Hausa language updates to at least these Ubuntu hosted projects.

At dRPC we now have the wireless network going which means they can now begin using their Google Apps hosted email and calendar (soon to be synced up with Thunderbird email clients for off-line access, including calendar). We spent some time installing ClamWin, Spybot and Firefox on computers in an effort to stave off the onslaught of viruses and spy-ware. Lastly we had a discussion and presentation on data management tools. Including this simple yet effective MS Excel as a database tool capable of quick analysis (via pivot charts), filtering (aka the lay persons querying) and easy generation of outputs (mail merge or reports).

I’m continuing tomorrow (Friday) with computer assembly, more data analysis in MS Excel, and WordPress (led by Scott) on Saturday. I’m also looking into how to register Nigeria domains for the groups that we’ll work with here and maybe it’s just me but I find the whole deal very confusing (though it is free).

Preparing for Departure

With only 5 days or so left I’m pretty excited to be returning home but also torn because there are so many projects here that I want to either start or somehow be involved in. Besides working with civil society and community-based groups I really want to see how I can participate in promoting alternative energies and improved telecommunications…. more on these later.

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