Strong digital systems are the key to successful health programmes in the regon, says EAC Secretary General
East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 21st December, 2023: The East African Community (EAC) Secretary GeneralHon (Dr). Peter Mathuki has said that strong digital systems are the key to successful health programmes in the region as the world becomes more technologically advanced.
Dr. Mathuki said that to fully realise the benefits of the digital transformation, it is essential for EAC Partner States to establish robust and effective governance frameworks for the health data that is being shared in order to manage risks and safeguard citizens’ rights.
In a speech read on his behalf by EAC Director of Social Sectors, Dr. Irene Isaka, during the opening session of the two-day EAC Regional Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Health, Population and Development in Kigali, Rwanda, the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, said that due to the high number of emerging and re-emerging health challenges around the EAC region, Partner States and Development Partners ought to find greater value in increasing the financial support for the health sector so as to finance digital interventions that enhance regional cooperation towards EAC integration.
Dr. Mathuki informed the meeting that since 2013, the EAC Secretariat through the EAC health department has been implementing different digital health systems that have provided linkages and inter-operability with counterpart systems in the Partner States.
Dr. Mathuki cited the development of the EAC Regional Digital Health Initiative that is meant to promote research and development (R&D) and capacity building in digital technologies as well as EAC regional digital innovations that provide a platform of getting evidence-based information for planning and policy guidance as some of the health systems interventions implemented by the EAC Secretariat.
“I am happy to inform you that we have registered a number of achievements under digital health in EAC. The achievements made include but are not limited to the EAC Regional Health Scorecard and the digital system for facilitating Pooled Procurement of Health Commodities (Pharmaceuticals) in the Region. Most of these digital health initiatives are data-intensive,’’ said Dr. Mathuki.
The Secretary General urged the national and regional legislatures through the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance to work together and provide timely and informed policy and legal guidance on the EAC regional health sector as the region is digitalising almost all clinical and public processes as well as cross-border data sharing and big data warehousing and analytics.
On his part, Hon. Kennedy Mukulia, the Chairperson of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) General Purpose Committee, said that asregion embarks on digital transformation, it is vital to recognise the power of digital health technologies from telemedicine and mobile health applications to health information systems and electronic medical records.
Hon. Mukulia disclosed that the Inter-Parliamentary forum will play a pivotal role in advancing legislative agendas that promote the responsible deployment of digital health solutions, safeguard data privacy and security, and uphold ethical standards in healthcare delivery.
‘’As legislators, it is incumbent upon us to have a deep understanding of the complexities and implications of digital health technologies, so that we can effectively contribute to shaping policies that align with the best interests of our constituents,’’ Hon. Mukulia said.
The legislator urged all stakeholders across the EAC to collaborate in sharing best practices, exchanging knowledge and harmonising regulatory frameworks.
Meanwhile, during the two-day Inter-Parliamentary Forum, the East African Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on Digital Health Innovation and Governance (ADEGA) was launched. The Alliance will among other things seek to: provide strategic governance and oversight in digital health innovations and governance; support, whenever possible, the efficient translation of findings presented into policies, and; ultimately support the passage of relevant laws and resolutions.
ADEGA will also sensitise Honourable EALA and National Assemblies’ Members on ongoing and future planned digital health initiatives for EAC and similar initiatives for the African Union with a view to building consensus through the African Common Position that is part of Africa CDC’s digital transformation flagship projects.
Notes to Editors:
The EAC Secretariat and the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) have collaborated for many years under the EAC Regional Inter-Parliamentary Forum on Health, Population and Development (HPD). The Forum on HPD has convened different health events that need the attention of the parliamentarians.
The EAC regional health sector is broad with many sub-domains that have different specialties including digital health. Since the world is experiencing rapid growth in the digital revolution involving emerging digital technologies that play an impactful role in the health sector, there is a need to form an alliance or a sub-group under the EAC Regional Interparliamentary forum on HPD that will be a platform for promoting evidence-based policymaking and stronger governance of digital health transformation.
For more information, please contact:
Simon Peter Owaka
About the East African Community Secretariat:
The East African Community (EAC) is a regional intergovernmental organisation of seven (7) Partner States, comprising the Republic of Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Kenya, the Republic of Rwanda, the Republic of South Sudan, the Republic of Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania, with its headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania. The Federal Republic of Somalia is in the process of becoming a full member of the Community after its admission into the EAC bloc by the Summit of EAC Heads of State on 24th November, 2023.
The EAC Secretariat is ISO 9001: 2015 Certified