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Health ministry goes digital

2021-12-06  Paheja Siririka

Health ministry goes digital
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With the country’s patient medical records largely paper-based, making verification processes lengthy and cumbersome, the health ministry launched the national eHealth strategy, responding to quality health and social services.

The eHealth strategy will enable the application of eHealth solutions to consult and manage patients remotely, manage patient records and make them available wherever they will be required for the convenience of the patients.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula at the launch said the rapid advancement in ICT has ensured the constant update using real-time data to enable, proper planning, resource allocation and ensure health security by strengthening disease monitoring and surveillance.

“The implementation of eHealth strategy is a transformation initiative that will not merely change the existing manual medical records system to an electronic one, but also seeks to change the way health-related information is collected, shared, communicated, and analysed to improve decision-making and patient care,” stated Shangula.

He added: “It will allow healthcare workers to capture, access, and share patient information promptly across geographical and health sector boundaries using ICT that are fit for purpose securely and reliably.”

He said this way, the eHealth strategy would inform the coordinated implementation of various initiatives to support the adoption of ICT in enhancing health care delivery.

E-health solution assumed great importance during the Covid-19 pandemic as it has affected every facet of lives and has compelled change in the way of life and how business is conducted.

“It is now possible to consult a patient virtually and for a doctor to prescribe medication to the patient and the patients to collect the medicine from the pharmacy without having first to come to the doctor and collect the prescription physically,” indicated Shangula.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr Charles Sagoe-Moses added eHealth plays a vital role in promoting universal health coverage in a variety of ways including enhancing diagnosis and treatment by providing accurate and timely patient information through electronic health records.

“It facilitates the training of the health workforce through the use of eLearning, and makes education more widely accessible especially for those who are isolated, it helps provide services to remote populations and underserved communities through telehealth or mHealth.

 Through the strategic use of ICT, it improves the operations and financial efficiency of healthcare systems,” highlighted Sagoe-Moses.

He said with the launching of the eHealth strategy 2021-2025, Namibia is committing to a paradigm shift to enhance health outcomes by improving medical diagnosis, data-based treatment decisions, digital therapeutics, clinical trials, self-management of care and person-centred care as well as creating more evidence-based knowledge, skills and competence for professionals to support healthcare through digital transformation. 

The World Health Assembly (WHA) (of 2013) urged member states to introduce ICT in the health sector and provide an enabling environment for its usage as eHealth. Sagoe-Moses stated the implementation of eHealth within the public sector of Namibia has great potential to support the provision of quality health services and contribute to the achievement of Universal Health Coverage.

2021-12-06  Paheja Siririka

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