Opening remarks by BMZ and SDC

  • Kathrin Oellers, Head of Division Population Policy, Social Protection (Div. 101) / German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

  • Alexander Schulze, Head of Global Programme Health Division / Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), Federal Department of Foreign Affairs


Both, BMZ and SDC, reflected on and stressed the gains of investing in a global good, such as the openIMIS initiative.
Originating in a digital solution that was developed in the health financing context and reacting to a specific request from Tanzania in 2011 by the community health funds (CHF), the software grew organically with every following adaptation - for a mutuelle-based health insurance scheme in Cameroon, from 2014 and for operating Nepal’s national health insurance scheme, from 2016.
This demonstrated potential for easy adaptation to different types of health financing and social protection mechanisms prompted SDC to release the management information system through an open-source license - openIMIS. In 2016, The German Development Cooperation (GDC) and SDC jointly setup the openIMIS Initiative, to manage and promote the community of practice, to further develop the software, and to support future implementations of the openIMIS software.

Over the past five years openIMIS developed into a global good in health financing and social protection, which is

  • open source,

  • aligned with Principles for Digital Development and the Principles of Donor Alignment for Digital Health,

  • interoperable through the use of international standards,

  • aligned with other global goods and their communities of practice (e.g. OpenHIE, Digital Square),

  • and which reflects its global aspirations in its governance structure and global community of practice.

Looking back and looking ahead, SDC and BMZ can attest the initiatives’ achievements in growing more versatile in its functionalities and service to people in health and social protection. Nevertheless, the initiative will have to go a long way in order to see a sustainable openIMIS solution contributing to more impact in more countries. As for this to happen, both funders invited participants and their organizations to join, as Alexander Schulze puts it “We need all of you – we need users to feed back their experiences and formulate their new needs and requests on which we can further build the solution, developers to propose and create new features based on these needs and following any short comings they may have basically discovered and detected in the existing solution, other communities of practice that work with us to make differences between the solution compatible, but also interoperable, and we need promoters and donors to spread the word and support the further development and the implementation of the solution.”