This thesis investigates free and open source software (FLOSS), andFLOSS in the context of developing countries. The research is based ontwo action research case studies. Both case studies are done withinthe Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) network. HISP is aresearch and development network focusing on promoting effective useof information in the health systems of developing countries.
The first case study was conducted in the Tigray region ofEthiopia. In this case study a team of researchers used actionresearch to configure and adapt District Health Information Software(DHIS) to the local context of the Tigray health system. DHIS is aflexible health information system used to collect routine data fromhealth systems. DHIS is distributed under a FLOSS license. Iparticipated in this team as a software developer.
In the second case study I participated in the development of DHIS 2which is a total reimplementation of DHIS based on a platform of FLOSStechnologies. DHIS 2 is developed using distributed voluntarydevelopment and licensed under a FLOSS license. In other words DHIS 2is developed using a community model commonly used by large scaleFLOSS projects. I participated in this project as a FLOSS developer,and I focused on the extensibility of DHIS 2. I created a throwawayprototype of a plug-in framework.
Through this two case studies I investigate FLOSS and how FLOSS canbenefit and are benefiting both Ethiopia and the HISP network. I arguethat the access to source code facilitates technologytransfer/translation of information and communication technologies(ICT). Context dependent software like health information systems needto be adapted to each local context in order to be useful andeffective, having access to source code is a life saver in thisprocess.