Report: OSHCA Conference 2007

Event Participation Report 
* For downloading presentations, kindly scroll to the end of this report.

OSHCA Conference 2007 - Realizing the Vision for global Open Healthcare Technology 

Nearly 140 members of the the global Free and Open Source Software FOSS Community gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from  May 9-11, 2007 to build an action plan and pursue Open Source Software in Healthcare and Medical service delivery worldwide. This was the OSHCA Open Source Health Care Alliance International Conference that attracted participants from all over the world and potential funding agencies including global names like InWEnt (Ministry of Economic and Social Affairs, Germany), UNDP-Asia Pacific Information Development Programme APDIP, International Development Research Center Canada IDRC and the UNDP-APDIP International Open Source Network IOSN ASEAN and South Asia Nodes.

iFOSSF was supported by the UNDP-APDIP International Open Source Network IOSN Node-South Asia and OSHCA to participate and present during this event of global importance. The Open Source Health Care Alliance (OSHCA) has successfully provided a forum for individuals interested in applying open source strategy and principles to Health Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). While OSHCA's roots are in North America and Europe, its vision is the realization of “FOSS in Health Care as a viable and sustainable alternative for Health ICT worldwide”. OSHCA believes that the greatest potential for positive impact on health outcomes and the greatest need lies in the developing world.

OSHCA's four day conference proved to be a resourceful meeting place for members and participants who together defined OSHCA's road map for advancing the FOSS Agenda in Health, conceptualizing and defining OSHCA's role in managing FOSS collaboration, and strengthening OSHCA as a whole into a global organization. The conference also offered a grand opportunity to share and provide updates on FOSS applications and technologies used in health care around the globe making the event a valuable resource for whoever received the opportunity to participate.

The conference brought into discussion issues raised by the primary healthcare sectors of both governments and industry and gave the opportunity to the civil society to actively participate and share their experiences on the use of various Open Healthcare Technologies. These included, open standards, interoperability and data exchange as well as the opportunity to receive training during a whole day of various workshop sessions for new Asian programmers on FOSS concepts and health data interoperability.

Dr. Molly Cheah, Chairperson of OSHCA and her team has been widely recognized for their extensive lobbying and partnership development efforts for establishing a global presence of OSHCA since its early founding stage from a few years earlier. Today, the OSHCA organization stands tall and is a collective of Medical and Healthcare Practitioners, Researchers, Doctors, Physicians, Health Technology Managers, Hospital CIO''s and most importantly, many FOSS developers from around the globe. OSHCA is seen as the only organization that has been promoting a vertical focus on the use of Open Source technologies and platforms in Healthcare and Medical services.

OSHCA is envisioned to realize the potential of FOSS as a viable and sustainable alternative in mainstream Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) for positive impact in health outcomes as adjunct to building a global knowledge society. OSHCA's vision is to promote to policy makers the concept of FOSS in Health Care so as to adopt or give equal opportunity to FOSS Solutions. OSHCA leads in refining FOSS concepts and principles applied to health care ensuring that best practices and patient safety are not compromised. OSHCA also makes recommendations on the development and use of Health Information Standards for data interchange and representation formalisms such as interoperability between FOSS systems.

OSHCA provides guidelines for quality control on Open Source Health Care Software development. This incorporates efforts involving participating in and supporting Human Capacity Building, contributing and participating in project proposals and project management to achieve developing country priorities. This is done through enabling collaboration between members including, sharing technical knowledge of FOSS in Health Care Projects and providing information Resources to FOSS Health Care software developers. OSHCA's global role is also realized through promoting and helping the formation of a development consortia for health care related projects, including assisting in finding funding for projects to reach critical mass for a visible and lasting impact on health related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

OSHCA, IDRC and UNDP-APDIP IOSN South Asia assisted Pakistani medical and Open Source professionals to participate in the conference.  The participants included Dr. Shariq Khoja, Assistant Professor at the Department of Community Health Science and Medical Director's Office of the Agha Khan University Karachi who presented his research work as part of an IDRC funded research activity on E-Health in Asia. On the other hand, Dr. Haroon Khan, Director IT, Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Islamabad gave a detailed presentation on the implementation of an Enterprise wide Healthcare Information Management System at PIMS as one of the prime public sector examples from Pakistan on the use of Enterprise IT.  Fouad Riaz Bajwa, Pakistani FOSS Advocate and Secretary of the International Free and Open Source Software Foundation iFOSSF presented issues related to “Challenges: Use of Healthcare Information Management Systems in Pakistan”and opportunities for adopting ”Alternative Healthcare Technologies” involving free Healthcare software and reasonably low-cost computer hardware tools for worldwide use. These presentations may be downloaded from the OSHCA website.

Along with these important activities, OSHCA also manages a portal at where it maintains information on the organization, membership programmes, working groups, mailing lists and a detailed coverage of the conference on its website.