Ministry of health to develop good biometric system to streamline medical records

The Ministry of Health is working with the governments of Japan and Belgium to develop a biometric medical records system in the country.

The biometric system is expected to streamline medical records and improve patient care.

On Friday, the Health CS Susan Wafula hosted the ambassador of Japan to Kenya Okaniwa Ken and his Belgian counterpart Peter Maddens at her Afya House office.

“With significant support from both Japan and Belgium, especially during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the three nations are working together on several initiatives to improve healthcare in the country,” the ministry said in a statement.

According to the ministry, the three countries are also planning to strengthen government-to-government cooperation in expanding social and primary health in Kenya, bringing significant improvements to the country’s healthcare system.

“These partnerships with Japan and Belgium are expected to have a significant impact on the healthcare sector in Kenya,” the ministry said.

“With streamlined medical records and improved vaccination management, the country’s healthcare system will be better equipped to serve its citizens.”

A photo of Susan Wafula the Health CS with the ambassador of Japan to Kenya Okaniwa Ken

According to Kemri scientists, the new technology combines fingerprint identification for children and voice recognition for caregivers to confirm not only their identity, but also to reliably manage vaccination histories and schedules, thereby promoting the implementation of appropriate vaccinations for newborns and children during the first 24 months of life.

Going forward, demonstration tests that network among multiple hospitals will begin, aiming for full-scale introduction throughout Kenya by the end of 2023, and more international deployment in the future.

“Since voice recognition can be performed almost instantaneously, this system can minimise the burden placed on caregivers. Medical institutions can also introduce voice recognition with little to no change to existing procedures'” Kemri and her partners NEC Corporation and Nagasaki University  explained in an official release.

While highlighting that the initial results are very encouraging, Kemri said that the validation of this system is currently taking place with a clinical trial that began in September last year at the Kinango Sub-County Hospital.

This technology marks the first time that biometric identification is being used at a hospital to identify newborn children at the time of vaccination, including those immediately after delivery and as of November 2022, data from more than 300 caregivers and newborns had been registered, including the vaccination histories of more than 150 newborns,” Kemri said.

Kemri scientists further disclosed that their clinical trials involved approximately 1,000 caregivers and newborns with trial data being registered for approximately 300 individuals as of the end of November 2022.

“Using the vaccination management system, the hospital records information on the physical characteristics of newborns at the time of birth as well as the history of and schedule for administration of eight different vaccines and one vitamin supplement up to 24 months after birth to verify the effectiveness of and issues related to the system. The voice and fingerprint pattern data acquired will be used only for the current purpose of this trial and will be deleted after its completion,” the scientists added.

Expanding social and primary healthcare, the ministry said, will help to ensure that all Kenyans have access to the care they need.

Already, the ministry is collaborating with Japanese engineers on a Vaccination Management System (VMS) that will include biometric technologies to improve the survival rates of newborns in Kenya.

The system developed in partnership with NEC Corporation (NEC) and Nagasaki University, Japan, is expected to effectively and seamlessly manage vaccination history and scheduling using fingerprint identification for newborn children and voice recognition for caregivers.

According to KEMRI, the system uses NEC technology to classify fingerprint images collected from four fingers of a newborn; into five categories according to the shape of each and then registers the fingerprint pattern data.

The four include the left thumb, right thumb, left index finger and right index finger.

The system also combines pattern-based classification with NEC’s voice recognition to improve accuracy when verifying the identity of caregivers and newborns.

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