Zimbabwe adopts e-health strategies

ln a bid to move with global developments Zimbabwe has developed ehealth strategies to enhance service delivery and increasing competitiveness in the health sector.

ln a bid to move with global developments Zimbabwe has developed ehealth strategies to enhance service delivery and increasing competitiveness in the health sector.

Globally, all sectors are embracing information and communication technologies (ICTs) and healthcare is no exception. ICTs can transform how healthcare is delivered and how health systems are run.

The use of ICTs in healthcare service delivery is termed ehealth. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines ehealth as ‘the combined use of electronic communication and information technology in the health sector.’

WHO further defines it as ‘the means of ensuring that the right health information is provided to the right person at the right place and time in a secure, electronic form for the purpose of optimising the quality and efficiency of healthcare delivery.’

Ehealth includes using ICTs at the point of care. For instance, resources can be saved if electronic medical record systems are used to investigate and report immediately to care providers. Telehealth services can be used to provide specialist services remotely to communities who are unable to travel. Electronic surveillance systems can provide decision makers with the power to decide on the most appropriate interventions and services relevant to a target population.

According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) by December 2011 about 1.4 million (12%) of Zimbabweans could access the internet. In March 2012, the mobile phone communication rate was estimated by the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (POTRAZ) to be 78.5%.

According to Chipo Mutambo of the ICT/ehealth working group technical committee at the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in Zimbabwe, a number of ehealth applications are underway in Zimbabwe. These include strengthening the national health information system through the use of the District Health Information System (DHIS). Human resources for health are being tracked through an integrated database system that includes relevant regulatory authorities and the Ministry of Health.

A number of private sector initiatives are beginning to take hold with one service provider linking all care centers in a single network. A medical school has installed a telemedicine application, through which teaching and training can be provided to undergraduate medical practitioners. The school has access to key international data repositories currently accessible to postgraduate and undergraduate healthcare practitioners.

lt is reported that there are no clear, well-coordinated mechanisms in place where ehealth implementations are organised. This is reported to produce serious duplication of effort and unworkable system implementations. A strategy is being developed to guide the health ministry to implement ehealth interventions effectively.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
  • comment-avatar
    rumbie 5 years

    well reported story

  • comment-avatar
    Scott 4 years

    Good information! How are Zimbabwe’s electronic medical and health records systems (if any), aside from “ehealth”….