This thesis is based on an action research project where I have participated in the development of internationalisation support to a computerised health information system. The project is a Vietnamese-Norwegian collaboration targeted at implementing and adapting the District Health Information Software (DHIS) in Vietnam, part of the larger Health Information Systems Programme (HISP). HISP is a global research initiative that started in South Africa in 1994 and has since been implemented in many other developing countries, now recently in Vietnam.
Following an action research approach, the author has actively participated in the information system development process to enable multi-language support in the software and to explore the importance of internationalisation in the context of information systems in developing countries. The author seeks to identify challenges related to developing internationalised software in this context, particularly in the Vietnamese language. The adaptation of DHIS to the Vietnamese context has been challenging, especially enabling support for the Vietnamese language. Both political and technical issues have played a major role in this process.
The author argues that internationalisation of global software is of importance in order to improve the situation of implementing IT-based systems in developing countries. Based on the research on the Vietnamese adaptation process it is clear that internationalisation of software represents many challenges; appropriate software design, limitations related to the technical platform, and limited support for certain languages.