Doing Our Bit To Help Fight Infant HIV In Africa
PowerApps Training For Global Charity EGPAF
Author: Glenn Powell | Technical Director | Formus Professional Software
This week, two of our technical consultants are heading down to eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) to help a charitable foundation in its fight against infant HIV.
Sebastian Gedge and Thomas Cunningham will deliver four days of ‘train the trainer’ instruction on how to use Microsoft’s PowerApps platform to staff at the Elizabeth Glaser Paediatric AIDS Foundation. It’s the sort of work that I’ve always been keen to get involved with, ever since setting up Formus Professional Software.
Of course, we all go into business to make a living for ourselves but I’ve always got a kick out of working with people who so obviously care about what they do and helping them to do it even better. The Elizabeth Glaser Foundation absolutely fits that bill.
Faster Information Improves Infants Chances
A tiny country with a population of just over a million people, eSwatini has the world’s highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS, affecting over a quarter of the adult population. While the World Health Organization recommends that all children exposed to HIV are tested within the first two months of their lives, only half of the infants exposed to HIV, worldwide, have access to early diagnostic screening.
50% of infants who are tested never receive their results and are therefore unable to access lifesaving treatment. Without treatment, 80% of all children living with HIV die before the age of five. Making sure that suitable treatments are available in timely fashion wherever they are needed is the Foundation’s ultimate aim.
We originally heard, via our Microsoft networks, that the Foundation was looking for help to improve how it collects vital medical data from its clinics in remote parts of Africa. It currently collects data on how many women have tested for HIV, how many tested positive and how many exposed new-born babies remain HIV negative.
Image credit: Eric Bond/EGPAF
Having instant access to secure, accurate data is clearly a critical concern for the Foundation, allowing their staff to make immediate, well-informed decisions about the treatment a child requires. Previously, this information was captured with pen and paper and then added into a spreadsheet; a time-consuming, insecure and potentially inefficient exercise.
I was immediately keen to get involved. I really do believe that software is one of the best ways that you can help a company, any company, be more efficient or productive nowadays, to save money or to deploy valuable resources more effectively.
Passion, Drive & Knowledge
But this wasn’t really about the technology. It was about an opportunity to work with an organisation that’s clearly so driven and motivated in their work. When you talk to the people at the Foundation, they clearly care deeply about what they do. Setting up this four day workshop and sending two of our team out there; it felt like the least we could do.
Microsoft’s PowerApps has been developed so that anyone can create their own apps, whether they’re technically minded or not (the latter group, with zero or minimal software expertise, are what Microsoft refers to as “citizen developers”). It’s an ideal fit for what the Foundation is trying to achieve. For them, the idea is for 30 of their people to learn how to create apps for storing and uploading medical information when out in the field and then teaching their colleagues how to do the same. The workshop format is something we hope to subsequently replicate for the Foundation in both central and northern Africa as well.
Although Microsoft’s Power Platform (of which PowerApps is a part) is still in its infancy, it’s firmly rooted within the Microsoft Business Applications ecosystem that we do almost all our work within.
Whenever something new is released within that ecosystem, Seb, Thomas and all our technical consultants will quickly look to get to grips with every aspect of its capabilities and functionalities.
Everything they’ve learned will now be packaged up for the Foundation team and delivered across three days of instruction on the platform, with the fourth day dedicated to putting the theory into practice as the group begins developing their own apps.
The Elizabeth Glaser Foundation isn’t the first charitable organisation we’ve worked with (Anthony Nolan, the UK cancer charity, was our first ever client back in 2012, for example) and I certainly hope it won’t be the last.
When you see the great work they do and then see how you might be able to contribute, in even just the smallest way, that’s really uplifting. That’s why we get involved with these organisations and that’s why I’m really excited about trying to do our bit to help the Elizabeth Glaser Foundation.
What Is The Power Platform?
Our Breakdown Of The Best Bits
In terms of its scope and importance, Power Platform is huge. It’s already in use by many huge global corporations. Think Coca Cola, Pepsi, Virgin, and BP for starters.
But that doesn’t mean that it’s off limits for smaller organisations.
Ultimately, Microsoft’s aim with the Power Platform is that it’s accessible to all members of your organisation, whether it’s via an app you create for your users, a workflow you implement, or a performance dashboard you provide to them.
Want to see the photos?
Our kind delegates from Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation took several photos throughout the training.
A big thank you to Muzie Yende - Communications, Outreach and Advocacy Advisor for EGPAF, Mbabane, Eswatini.
To Aliza Lailari - Informatics Officer, Business Intelligence for EGPAF and to our technical trainers Thomas Cunningham and Seb Gedge for taking them.