The Event

On December 17th 2022, Palau’s National Hospital held an official launch event for ‘Project Olangch,’ celebrating a comprehensive digitisation of their health information system and a truly transformative moment for healthcare in the country.

Some very special guests helped to mark the occasion, including Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr, Palau Minister for Health Gaafar J. Uherbelau, and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.

L-R: Minister of State Gustav Aitaro, Australian Ambassador to Palau Richelle Turner, Shadow FM Simon Birmingham, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., Health Minister Gaafar J. Uherbelau, Delegate Warren Umetaro, Senator Stevenson J. Kuartei.

Minister for Health Gaafar J. Uherbelau described Project Olangch as a “large leap” for Palau’s health sector. “In establishing Tamanu, Tupaia, and mSupply,” he said, “not only are we adapting and implementing newer and greener health information technology that will further streamline hospital operations, improve security, access, archiving and sharing of patient data and health information, more importantly, this initiative will allow us to provide more efficient care and services to patients and clients, not just here at The Belau National Hospital, but across the health sector to private clinics and healthcare providers.”

Senator Penny Wong also spoke warmly about the project, describing it in her speech as “a demonstration of practical co-operation…on things that matter.” 

One of the biggest highlights of the launch was receiving glowing feedback from many of the hospital staff, who praised the increased ease and efficiency of their workflow as well as an ability to make better-informed decisions regarding patient care.

From L-R: BES Project Officer Ming Ong, Hospital Administration Director Darnelle Worswick, Hospital Services Director Ngirachisau Mekoll, Global Health Administrator Omengkar Wally, Project Managers Rodney Miller and Georgia Lack, ICT administrator Smau Erungel.

About the Project

Project Olangch was initiated in 2020, when the Australian Embassy had a conversation with the Palau Ministry of Health and Human Services (PMHHS) as COVID-19 struck. The Palau MHHS partnered with Beyond Essential in 2021, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to deploy our three platforms – Tamanu, Tupaia, and mSupply.

These three applications working in concert provide a comprehensive replacement for the paper-based system previously in use at Belau National Hospital. Here’s a quick introduction to the integrated digital health ecosystem:

-With Tamanu, staff now have digital tools at the patient bedside, offering medical history, data capture, and clinical decision support to help them work more quickly and safely.

-Aggregated health data is then visualised in Tupaia to assist with automated disease surveillance and public health reporting.

-When a patient presents at the pharmacy, their medication record can be managed in mSupply and their medicine can be safely dispensed.

The ecosystem improves efficiencies, reduces waste and costs, and improves access to critical health data, resulting in better health outcomes for all.

Dr. Maribeth Caguingin, Emergency Room Physician at BNH.

A Note on ‘Olangch’

Olangch is an important Palauan word meaning ‘a sign, distinguishing mark, indicator, or anything functioning to give directions.’ Olangch was selected by the ministry to describe a pivotal point in Palau’s healthcare journey, as well as to describe the tools the project implemented, which organise data to provide clearer directions for health professionals.