by Wallace Mawire
A National Health Information Technical Committee (NHISTC) has been established in Zimbabwe to oversee the implementation of the National Health Information strategy for 2009-2014 and to promote e-health initiatives.
One of the tasks of the NHISTC will be to advocate and provide technical assistance towards a vision and strategic approach to e-health and the development of information communications technologies (ICT) and e-health policies and systems, a Ministry of Health official said.
The Ministry of Health is the custodian and coordinator of all health-related data and information functions and will be responsible for the development of ICT and e-health policies and systems.
The term ‘e-health’ relates to the application of electronic and modern ICTs to improve health services. The scope for ICT in health services is broad. It can assist with patient treatment – for example through the development of electronic medical records systems – public health management, the exchange of information through the web or via cellphones, and research coordination.
The Ministry of Health says one of the most important aspects for successful information management is standardisation. The standardisation of health related information has to tally with the national standards being set for other ICT related fields, broadly defined under e-commerce, e-government, just to mention a few.
The Ministry of Health has produced a strategic paper entitled Information and Information Technology (IT&T) as addendum to the National Health Strategy (NHS) for the years 1997 – 2007. This document may be used as resource for the e-health group where appropriate.
An ICT/e-Health Technical Work Group has been set up to provide technical support and monitor the establishment of ICT/e-health policies and systems. The committee will assist and guide the health ministry in advocating for the establishment of an ICT/e-health policy framework, which provides for the use of ICT in the health service delivery in tandem with the national health strategy and ICT policy. It will also provide technical support and monitor the development and setting up of a digital and e-communication solution for health services delivery in Zimbabwe.