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Million dollar e-health boost for Rwanda

07 September 2009

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Rwanda's Ministry of Health has unveiled a $32m plan for making healthcare services delivery effective through ICT. The funding would support district health centres, develop community based information systems and computerize the national health care system.

Kigali:  The government of Rwanda through the Ministry of Health has unveiled a $32m plan to enhance e-health through ICT.

Image credits: Amnesty USA: Improving health sector in Rwanda

The initiative will be financed by several donors including the Rockefeller Foundation which has so far pledged US$1.5m.

"If we have to witness some gains, it is essential that proven innovations in information technology be adopted and similar improvements in effectiveness, efficiency and productivity be achieved in the health sector," the coordinator of e-health at the Health Ministry, Dr. Richard Gakuba said.

The initiative acknowledges that health challenges remain one of Rwanda's major constraints to poverty reduction and improvement in quality of life.

"The new move is thus expected to have an effective infrastructure, applications and information systems supporting effective and efficient delivery of healthcare services in Rwanda" Gakuba said.

Healthcare practices

The Ministry of Health states in the recent policy document for the initiative, that new forms of current best healthcare practices require clinical information sharing that is only possible if there are high levels of interoperability between systems.

"There has to be a defined architecture that describes the way in which systems 'talk to each other"

The new policy seeks to exchange information among various components such as; electronic medical records, reporting tools, drug management tools for the express purpose of offering interoperable systems.

"For systems to be interoperable, there has to be a defined architecture that describes the way in which systems 'talk to each other' and standards for the data that is supposed to be exchanged" Gakuba explained.

Investments towards enhancing e-health

Within the overall $32m bulk of the funds, $7m will be directed towards developing ICT mechanisms to support district and health centre levels and a further $6.3m will be directed towards strengthening hospital management information systems.

Over $5m will go towards epidemiological surveillance, telemedicine and computed radiography system installation in district hospitals.

A further $4.5m will be channelled into developing internet-based infrastructure e-health data and voice. Community based information systems will take a further $4m while the computerization of the national health care system will cost $1.5m.

"We have so far seen a number of technologies that are now used such as mobile phones, e-health record etc"

The Rockefeller Foundation, pledged to work hand-in-hand with the Government to strengthen the country's health systems. The pledge was made by the foundation's president, Judith Rodin, during her visit to the country in June.

"Rwanda's health sector is really reorganising itself and we are seeing the Mutuelle de Sante trying to provide universal health coverage. We have so far seen a number of technologies that are now used such as mobile phones, e-health record etc," Rodin said.

"All these are going to be introduced and the Rockefeller foundation will be working with the government and many other partners to develop and expand these programmes throughout the country," she added.

Source : All Africa

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