Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Worthy. Laboratory management system for public health laboratories

You might be aware of the success of me and my colleagues at Bika Lab Systems in building open source laboratory management solutions. Well not quite financially, but in the project's popularity, glory, feel-good and reach. Our software has been downloaded a whopping 30 000 times, near 10 000 in the last year

One tragic omission remains, a branch of the system for public health laboratories active in the prevention and treatment of HIV, Malaria, TB and curable cervical cancer amongst others

Because of health ministry and big sponsorship involvement, this sector is awash with hot air, inertia and totally f*cked up agendas, never mind suffering people. Commercial systems for hospitals cost millions
IMHO, not that of Bika Lab Systems or Health Foundation which would be a bit more civilised I guess
We need R750k ($100k) to customise Bika's robust water quality system and make it available as Bika Health for public download. We received a 50% grant to this effect from DTI's Innovation fund and we are sure to make up the rest from commercial sponsorship or community contributions - in May we had a Bika enthusiast at a big commercial lab contribute a fully developed SQL database back-end, worth thousands...

The need is urgent and we are now rushing up an alpha version to present to further prospects and make available on-line for review. The Alpha, version 0.3, will cost us approximately R75k, translating neatly to $10 000. We kicked non-profit fund raising and distribution vehicle, The Bika Health Foundation, est. 2008, into gear to collect this and pledged $5000 of work for free

        We are trying to raise the residual $5000 via micro pledges with one of the web tools designed to this purpose, Chip in. Please see the widget at, home of the Bika LIMS open source community

And please contribute should you have the odd $10 bill floating around in cyber space - the widget uses PayPal mainly but allows for credit cards. In which case you'll be provided with a PayPal account if you don't have one - a little irritating, please blame the local banking cartel. The account will however save you on-line banking costs in the long run, PayPal will be represented in ZA by FNB locally soon

I tested with $25 and it seems to work. Please chip in! And forward this e-mail to prospects in your network. The campaign kicks off in all earnest next week

We do get receipts and I'll be listing contributions - if agreed to by the contributor - linked to your nominated site for some Google brownies, Bika is nogal heavily weighted
        Where's the catch? For one I am intrigued by this kind of social experiment - note that Diaspora, a Facebook like project but with principles and superior architecture, appealed for $10 000 in a similar campaign and was sitting at $120 000 barely a week later... Secondly, when Bika Health takes off, i might get to see some more of the exotic developing world, Africa, South East Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America where the need is biggest. Doing so from 3rd world hospitals will keep me sober i am sure

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