Archive for October 2012

Demo site for patient management tools

We’ve just set up a demonstration site of our analytics and mobile site for the patient management tools. Previously if someone wanted to test out the tool for themselves, we could really only give them the mobile application and the protocols to look at, but we didn’t have a demo area for the server side. The only demo was on my laptop, and we can’t give access to the live site as it has real patient cases. I took this opportunity to look at using Amazon Web Services (EC2) for setting up the demo server – it all worked out really well and very easy to use.

You can log into the analytics/scorecard site at: (username/password is demo/demo)

and the mobile version is at: (same username/password)

The demo user has supervisor privileges, so is able to see all the data entered, usually health workers logging in would only get to see the data directly related to their patients.

If you would like to see the whole process, from entering the protocols on the smartphone, all the way through to seeing the cases on the analytics scorecard and mobile site, I also set up a demo ODK Aggregate server for submitting protocols. To set this up:

  1. Download and install on your phone our version of ODK
  2. start the app and enter the following settings (go to menu > change settings):
    • Server: (note that this is case sensitive)
    • Username: demo
    • Password: demo
  3. Go to ‘get blank form’ – this should connect to the server and show all the available protocol forms – select and download the ones you would like to try out
  4. Enter and submit a few protocols from your phone
  5. You will then be able to see the forms you have entered on the analytics scorecard, and the mobile version – note that the forms don’t appear instantly on the scorecard or mobile site, it may take a couple of hours, as we have some caching running, to make the site run more quickly

Please let us know how you get on – especially if I need to add some more info to the instructions above.

Curso de autosocorro

This weekend we had a self rescue (autosocorro) course, to know what to do if someone injured whilst on a rope and needs to be brought up or taken down quickly. On Wednesday we had a theory session and then at the weekend we went out to Patones (where I did my initial SRT course back in February) to practice outside. There are different techniques depending on whether the ‘victim’ is currently ascending or descending and the rescuer is trying to reach them from above or below, and finally whether you want to take the victim up or down. This weekend, we were mainly just practising accessing the victim from below and bringing them down, so the only variation was if they were currently ascending or descending.

For me, bringing the victim down when they were already on their descender was relatively straightforward, but when they were ascending, it was really tough. I tried 3 times and managed to get something wrong every time – so the supposedly unconscious victim had to help me out and ended up being more injured/bruised then when I started. From the photos below, and the mass of equipment/ropes between the rescuer and victim, you can see why it could be easy to get something wrong – although given your weight is hanging on the ropes it would be very hard to detach yourself completely. Think I will need more practice, but hopefully I never have to ever use anything we learned!

Caving Discovery Day

On Saturday we had a day trip out to Cueva del Asno, near Los RĂ¡banos (just south of Soria), to take some potential new caving club members (hence the “cave discovery day”, or “Salida de descubrimiento”). It’s the first cave I’ve been to in Spain that we’ve not had to use SRT in, so makes a nice change not to need harnesses, ropes etc. Although to formations inside are good, there’s quite a lot of damage to many of them, broken off stalactites/mites, (and graffiti) – I guess because the cave is very accessible, so quite easy for anyone to get into with only a torch. Next weekend I have an “autosocorro” (self rescue) course – so will learn and practice what to do in case anyone gets into trouble whilst climbing up/down on the ropes.

Some photos from Saturday:

Learning Django (and Python) and OpenBadges

Although I’ve played around a little with Django since I got my Raspberry Pi set up as a web server, I haven’t really written a proper application, only some small test scripts.

So, to push myself into learning it all properly, I’ve been looking at rewriting the mQuiz website as a Django app. This may seem like a bit of an academic exercise given that the website is already up and running fine in PHP. However, recently I’ve been looking into how we can incorporate badging into mQuiz, so, for example, if you get 80% or more in a quiz you’ll earn a badge. I’ve not yet figured out how it will all work, but in order to make the badges useful (in a minor way), I’m looking at using Mozilla OpenBadges.

So, what’s giving badges got to do with rewriting mQuiz in Django? Well, there’s already a OpenBadges issuing app written in Django, so thought I could use this and it gives me something substantial to work on for learning Django (and if it all works I can issue myself a badge!). For reference, there is a OpenBadges app for PHP too (see:, though I’ve not yet tried it out.

As well as just a learning opportunity/challenge, I also not too keen on the PHP framework I’ve used for mQuiz – it’s not based on any known framework (I made it up myself) and I think once we start to want to do more with mQuiz (especially extending the tutor monitoring/scorecard side), it would be good to have the app written in a known/supported framework, especially for extending any functionality, or if others are going to help install/maintain/support/develop/integrate the application.

There’s bit of a way to go yet, basically all I’ve done so far is write the login/logout script, but I’m now getting a feel for how much work it will be to re-write. So far, Django certainly seems a much more suited to rapid development than PHP frameworks I’ve looked at in the past. As yet, I’m unsure what changes I may make to the db/model structure, and so how to transfer any existing data (especially the users) from the current app to the Django mQuiz db, though I’m sure this will become clearer once I learn more.

As a byproduct of this, I realised that the mQuiz web design was looking a bit tired, so I’ve given it a minor facelift, with a new stylesheet, although only the main site, not the mobile version (yet).

Research article published on role of HEWs

Araya, one of the PhD students from Ethiopia we have been working with for the last few years, has just this week had his first journal article published: “The role of health extension workers in improving utilization of maternal health services in rural areas in Ethiopia: a cross sectional study”. More details on BioMed Central or PubMed. Abstract:


Community health workers are widely used to provide care for a broad range of health issues. Since 2003 the government of Ethiopia has been deploying specially trained new cadres of community based health workers named health extension workers (HEWs). This initiative has been called the health extension program. Very few studies have investigated the role of these community health workers in improving utilization of maternal health services.


A cross sectional survey of 725 randomly selected women with under-five children from three districts in Northern Ethiopia. We investigated women’s utilization of family planning, antenatal care, birth assistance, postnatal care, HIV testing and use of iodized salt and compared our results to findings of a previous national survey from 2005. In addition, we investigated the association between several variables and utilization of maternal health services using logistic regression analysis.


HEWs have contributed substantially to the improvement in women’s utilization of family planning, antenatal care and HIV testing. However, their contribution to the improvement in health facility delivery, postnatal check up and use of iodized salt seem insignificant. Women who were literate (OR, 1.85), listened to the radio (OR, 1.45), had income generating activities (OR, 1.43) and had been working towards graduation or graduated as model family (OR, 2.13) were more likely to demonstrate good utilization of maternal health services. A model family is by definition a family which has fulfilled all the packages of the HEP.


The HEWs seem to have substantial contribution in several aspects of utilization of maternal health services but their insignificant contribution in improving health facility delivery and skilled birth attendance remains an important problem. More effort is needed to improve the effectiveness of HEWs in these regards. For example, strengthening HEWs’ support for pregnant women for birth planning and preparedness and referral from HEWs to midwives at health centers should be strengthened. In addition, women’s participation in income generating activities, access to radio and education could be targets for future interventions.

Updated mobile learning app on Google Play

I’ve just made the updated training application available on Google Play, you can get it from here:

As before, when you first start the app you’ll be asked to login or register and then you can install some of the modules to test out (once logged in you’ll see the link to ‘install modules’). For initially logging in and installing the modules, you’ll need a data/wifi connection, but after this the app will work fully offline.

Also (and as before), the video content is not included in the module packages (mainly to keep the download size down). For trying out the videos, you can download them from here (all the .m4v files): – just copy these files directly into the /digitalcampus/media/ directory on your phone SD card.

If you have any problems/comments etc then please leave a message below.