8.6 Getting support from the HISP community

On three occasions during the process of adapting DHIS to Tigray we sought help from the HISP community. On the first occasion we had problems importing data from EPI-info into our prototype. On the second occasion I had problems implementing GIS support in DHIS. On the third occasion I sought information about how to make an install script incorporation the changes we made in Ethiopia. All the attempt at getting help was limited by the slow and unreliable network in Mekelle, and to a lesser extent in Addis Ababa. The only means of communication was through e-mails.

The problems we had with importing data from EPI-info, I have already mentioned. We basically found out of this problem ourselves with little useful information from the HISP network. In Mekelle the network was frequently unavailable, which in a way made e-mail just as interactive as regular mail, it went days between each time we checked our e-mail and then we had to dig our way through spam. It could take minutes to open each e-mail in a webmail client.

At one point during my stay in Ethiopia I planned to implement GIS in DHIS. I had no idea on how to get about this. I experimented some with ArcExplorer and looked at the content of related files. I had a hard time figuring out what to do to implement this. I found no relevant information on the Internet. I was in Addis Ababa where the network was usable when I tried this. I had some e-mail correspondence with the HISP community, but did not get sufficient information to understand how to implement GIS. I really missed a step-by-step howto and explanations about the technologies used. Documentation relating to DHIS and related software was altogether rater limited. There was also a lack of communication channels for this kind of support questions. The end of the story was that I decided not to spend time on this as I had other things to do.

The question I had about making an installer for the Tigray version of DHIS was quickly settled as I got the message that I had to have some expensive proprietary software to change the install script. In other words I couldn’t reasonably make an install script. The most helpful support we got from the HISP community came through the visit of Sundeep Sahay.