Rwanda e-health Pioneer bags Award
By Edwin Musoni(Newtimes):
The mHealth Alliance, an organisation dedicated to advancing the use of mobile technologies to improve health services, has honoured Dr Richard Gakuba with a prestigious award for his role in pioneering e-health in Rwanda.
At the just concluded fifth annual mHealth Summit in Washington DC, Dr Gakuba was awarded with the Holly Ladd mHealth (Mobile Health) Pioneer Award, at a dinner gala to celebrate the Alliance’s anniversary.
Upon receiving the award on Tuesday, Gakuba who is still in the US, posted on his Twitter account: “I owe this to the enabling environment and good leadership of the country and the Rwandan Ministry of Health. The African continent can take a lead in mHealth.Our needs are clear and the solutions are known, mHealth is the way to go.” Mobile health (mHealth) is a component of e-health with capacity to provide health care at the right time and the right place. It is fundamental in transforming health care and the way health is managed.
Gakuba is a former national e-Health coordinator, currently working as a consultant in eHealth policy development, strategic planning and implementation. The Holly Ladd mHealth Pioneer Award which Gakuba scooped is named after Holly Ladd, a champion of community building and skills transfer in mHealth. According to the citation, the prize recognises an individual who is advancing sustainable solutions for personal and community health empowerment through the use of mobile technology.
Gakuba was honoured for his contribution in the implementation of a national e-Health strategy for Rwanda. The strategy has created a regulatory environment that is enabling mHealth projects and programmes to flourish. Gakuba’s work has helped to optimise the effectiveness of health care delivery and made health services more affordable in Rwanda.
Speaking at the diner gala, the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dr. Judith Rodin, outlined the importance of mobile health and its contribution in making health services accessible.“In just a few years, the mHealth Alliance has been instrumental in making mHealth ubiquitous in global health. It demonstrates how philanthropic dollars, leveraged at the right moment, can catalyse entire fields. This progress has been made possible through visionary champions around the world like Dr. Gakuba, who recognised the potential of mHealth and eHealth, and demonstrated how it can help transform health systems anywhere,” said Dr. Rodin.
Holly Ladd was the Director of ‘Satelife’ which pioneered access to peer-reviewed medical and public health information for healthcare workers in developing communities via electronic-based information technology and low-earth orbit satellites.
At the same function, executive director of the mHealth Alliance Dr. Patricia Mechael said the awards are designed to honour visionaries in the field of mHealth – individuals and organisations whose work serves as “a shining example of what is possible when we use mobile technologies strategically to improve health outcomes in developing countries.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to honour these outstanding members of the mHealth community, and are grateful to the co-sponsors that have made it possible to recognise them,” Dr. Mechael said. The Holly Ladd mHealth Pioneer Award is co-sponsored by the mHealth Alliance, FHI 360 and the Rockefeller Foundation, and it includes a $5,000 cash prize.
In Rwanda, mHealth is used in supporting Community Health Workers in maternal and child health interventions by advancing the health for all. mHealth is built on the principle of using the cell phone technology to support public health. According to the Ministry of Health, the technology supports Rwanda health management.