Dear Ministry of Health, fix your Covid tracking app

Chroniclers

Dear Ministry of Health, fix your Covid tracking app


Cabinet Secretary of Health Mutahi Kagwe. PHOTO FILE | NMG

jenny

Summary

  • The cost of a simple botched coding twist plays out every day at Kenyan airports as the Department of Health’s faulty passenger tracing form causes queues and locks up staff.
  • The mistake is so serious and protracted – now eight months since it first tripped me – that when I got to Wilson Airport last week, they had finally given up on even trying to bring passengers on arrival to provide the QR code of the form.

The cost of a simple botched coding twist plays out every day at Kenyan airports as the Department of Health’s faulty passenger tracing form causes queues and locks up staff.

The mistake is so serious and protracted – now eight months since it first tripped me – that when I got to Wilson Airport last week, they had finally given up on even trying to bring passengers on arrival to provide the QR code of the form.

Instead, there was now an official with just a sheet of paper, asking everyone to write their name and phone number.

Three weeks earlier, passing through the same arrival hall, there were still five staff members showing people how to find the mysterious QR code.

That’s five employees, all day, eight months, multiplied by, say, 10 airports, some like Lamu with few arrivals, rarely, some like JKIA with large numbers, constantly.

I think the payroll for this flawed technology has certainly surpassed 10 million shillings this year, and probably 30 million shillings, as JKIA is not a point of entry for five people, as the planes come in. different terminals with hundreds of passengers.

But what worries me about this, whether the cost is Sh10m or Sh30m, is what it says about the skills and resource management skills of our Department of Health. Because if he can’t handle a single paragraph of text to save all that unnecessary extra work, then how does he organize the efficient delivery of health care?

Because, the problem with the form is a strange quirk, but, my own web developer tells me, not at all difficult to rectify.

The first step already has a problem, as the national version of the Passenger Tracking Form is designed as an online form that must also show your permanent address and temporary address in a county and sub-county in Kenya.

I have literally seen foreigners asking officials over and over again how to enter their real permanent address – in the United States, Germany or elsewhere.

There is no way. The form will not be sent, so they can choose a county and sub-county to call their permanent home or not get any QR codes. There is no other way.

Thus, all forms of domestic theft are false for foreigners when they exist.

But the real joy of a Department of Health passenger locator form is the decision to hide the QR code it generates.

When the form is submitted, it automatically sends the QR code by email. If you filled it out on a PC or laptop, the QR code will appear in the email.

But open that same email on your phone – oops, it’s blank. No QR code. Today, over 95% of Internet use and users in Kenya are on phones. But, on phones, the Ministry of Health QR code email still arrives empty, with no visible QR code.

Hats off to the spirited developer who was paid by the Department of Health for this invisible QR code delivery system.

I wish I could have witnessed their defense of this tiny problem. I did not do it. But if they said that it was not possible to fix: not true. My developer can help you MoH. I’ll cover the costs.

In the meantime, the dozens of employees who have encountered every plane across our country throughout 2021 must have told almost every passenger that if they have an Android phone, they should open the file manager, and they show to people where it’s in settings, then downloads, and there’s the QR code in a file in downloads.

Instructions are different for iPhones and many staff are unsure of how to access these downloads.

So my web developer and I also have another offer: we can add a paragraph of text in the auto-generated email indicating if you can’t see the QR code in the email where to go on your android or iPhone to find it.

Now I think maybe I deserve an award for this utility because the Department of Health couldn’t add this phrase in eight months, but my developer says he and I can do it in about four minutes . So clearly he and I are geniuses. Thank you.


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