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I just got back from Paraguay, where we were invited by Mr. Nicolás Caballero from the Paraguayan Government to talk about GNU Health at the Social Security Institute (IPS – Instituto de Previsión Social ) and Ministry of Public Health .

It’s great  to see how Paraguay is adopting Free Software in the Public Health System, working as a team, from the Presidency office, the Social Security Institute (IPS) and the Ministry of Public Health (MSPBS).
I noticed how the government conceives Health informatics as a public good, an integral component  of Public Health.   

At Dr. Emilio Cubas Hospital. The largest health center in Paraguay

We spent two non-stop days in Asunción, capital of Paraguay, visiting the different health centers and having meetings with health officials. In those meetings, Nicolas Caballero explained the latest and concrete resolutions that the Paraguayan government is taking on Free Software adoption in public health care. 

Nicolas Caballero and Social Security Institute (IPS) members

Luis Falcón, Nurhizam Safie, Cristina Melgosa, Rosa González and Ana Ayala (director of Informatics)  from IPS

After visiting the different health centers, we had a meeting with the information system team, with whom we discussed the technical details about GNU Health, such as the programming environment, security, scalability and reporting. 
Explaining technical details about GNU Health at the General Hospital
At Clinica Nanawa

Dr. Nurhizam Safie, from the United Nations University, Institute of Global Health explained the partnership with GNU Solidario, and implementation cases of GNU Health in Asia, Africa and Latinamerica.
Nurhizam stressed the commitment of the UNU – the academic branch of the United Nations – with GNU Health and the implementation in the Paraguayan Public Health system, as a way of delivering universality in health care. Today UNU provides training and capacity building in GNU Health implementations.  

Dr. Nurhizam Safie from United Nations University, talking about the UNU commitment to the project
Part of the Informatics department team at Central Hospital led by Rosa González
Ms. Rosa González, Social Security Institute chief of the informatics department, gave us an extensive tour throughout different health institutions and their departments. Among them: Pharmacy, Laboratory, Appointments, Inpatient administration and Imaging.
Rosa explained to her team that GNU Health is licensed under GPL, the GNU General Public License, so they have all the freedom to use and custumize GNU Health to fit their needs. I stressed the importance of working with the community, so the health informatics team can always ask questions in public forums and share with us their developments and bug fixes. GNU Health is the result of many contributions and feedback  from an international community and multi-disciplinary teams.
At the Geriatric Hospital

Dr Nurhizam, Cristina Melgosa and Rosa González at IPS entrance hall

On Friday afternoon we were invited by Dr. Graciela Gamarra, General Director of Strategic Health Information Systems, from the Health Ministry (Ministerio de Salud Pública y Bienestar Social). They showed us their current epidemiology systems that are being built on Free Software.
We also discussed on integrating all the current systems with GNU Health, and link it to the current epidemiology engine.
Taking a break

I want to thank the government of Paraguay for inviting us and for the hospitality, they made us feel at home.

But most importantly, I want to thank the government of Paraguay for the commitment with Free Software in Public Health. Latin America is today a leader in the adoption of Free Software in public administrations, delivering equity and universality in health care for their habitants.

Last but not least, thanks to Richard Stallman, who referred GNU Health to Nicolás Caballero , chief technology innovation officer of the Presidency office.  Thanks Nicolás for making this possible !

About GNU Health
GNU Health is a free Health and Hospital Information System that provides the following functionality :

  • Electronic Medical Record (EMR)
  • Hospital Information System (HIS)
  • Health Information System

GNU Health is an official GNU Package and is part of GNU Solidario. GNU Solidario is a NGO that delivers education and health to emerging economies with free software.

GNU Health is the Hospital Information System chosen by the United Nations International Institute of Global Health. 

Main site : health.gnu.org

Governments hosting GNU Health through their portals :
  • European Commission (EU) , OSOR
  • Brazil: Portal do Software Público Brasileiro (SPB)