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A Herefordshire-based software company is doing its bit to help combat HIV infection rates among infants in southern Africa.

Software experts from Formus Professional Software have stepped in to assist an American charity, the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, to improve how it collects vital medical data from its clinics.

Two of the company’s technical consultants are heading out to eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) to deliver four free days of ‘train the trainer’ instruction on how to use Microsoft’s PowerApps platform.

PowerApps has been developed so that anyone can create their own apps. For Elizabeth Glaser, the idea is for 30 of their staff from around the region to learn how to create their own apps for storing and uploading medical information when out in the field and then teaching their colleagues how to do the same.

The Foundation 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. Having instant access to secure, accurate data is a critical concern for the Foundation, allowing their staff to make immediate, well-informed decisions about prioritising limited resources and improving our programmes to respond to on-the-ground.

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. Fifty percent 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. Ensuring timely access to prevention and treatment services for children, young people, and families is at the core of the Foundations’s mission to end pediatric AIDS.

Glenn Powell, Formus Professional Software’s founder and Technical Director, said: “When the call came, via our Microsoft networks, appealing for help on behalf of Elizabeth Glaser, I was 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.

“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 its 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.

“Since setting up Formus, I’ve always said I get a kick out of working with people who so obviously care about what they do and helping them to do it even better. That’s why I’ve been drawn towards other good causes in the past, to try to do our bit, in some small way. I hope that’s what we can do for the Elizabeth Glaser AIDS Foundation with this workshop.”

To learn more about the charity, please visit www.pedaids.org/

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