Rwanda tasked with pioneering eHealth for East Africa
By Emmanuel Iruobe(ventures-africa)
The republic of Rwanda, reputed to be East Africa’s hub for technology, has been recently selected to be the regions center of excellence in e-health, biomedical engineering, health vaccines and immunization logistics. The appointment was made by health experts from the East African Community (EAC) who recently met in Uganda for the fifth annual EAC Health and Scientific Conference.
E-health is an evolving innovative practice involving the use of electronic processes and communication to promote healthcare. First appearing on the scene in 1999, it is closely related to health informatics, cyber medicine and m-health (mobile health). Being a low cost and easily accessible service, it continues to gather momentum and popularity across the globe.
“We were given this task because Rwanda is relatively advanced in matters of ICT. Our responsibility will be to provide e-health solutions like storage of medical records using high technology,” remarked Parfait Uwaliraye, the acting Permanent Secretary of the Rwandan Ministry of Health.
According to him, other responsibilities will include providing engineering knowledge for medical equipment like scanners and teaching how vaccines are efficiently procured and stored.
Other East African states were not left out, however. The officials appointed Uganda as the center of excellence in treating cancer, while Kenya will be charged with issues of urology. Also, Tanzania will service cardiac issues and while Burundi will handle nutritional issues.
Jessica Eriyo, EAC Deputy Secretary General for Productive and Social Sectors, revealed that the EAC will build capacities in those countries in order to ensure they efficiently work as referrals.
Dr Chris Baryomunsi, Uganda’s State Minister for Health, in delivering his remarks posed a striking question; “Why should we have patients flown to India for specialized treatment yet all this can be done in our region?” He further expressed his belief that the partner states will be encouraged to work harder and invest more resources in their respective assignments now that specific tasks have been allocated to them. The health experts also hinted their intentions to formulate a regional health policy spanning health structuring, harmonization of national policies, among others.