Botswana`s health sector is set to undergo a makeover as it considers use of digital technologies to address people related challenges through creating meaning from data in real time.
Sharing Botswana`s aspirations, Minister of Health and Wellness Dr. Lemogang Kwape said: “In Botswana eHealth environment has been developing overtime. We recently finalised an eHealth strategy which is a great opportunity to ensure that eHealth contributes to the strengthening of health system and outcomes of our people.”
“These aspirations are driven by the country`s recognition of the health as a basic and imperative to social justice. In realizing this goal, the importance of research, data access and analytics for decision making cannot be overemphasized,” Dr Kwape said.
“The field of digital health is fairly new to Botswana and is fast growing. Global adoption brings plenty of opportunities for employment locally and abroad. With well researched and validated digital platforms there are opportunities for home grown solutions for the local eHealth landscape,” Dr. Kwape said.
The minister was speaking during the 12th Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA) Conference, hosted by the University of Botswana (UB), Botswana Institute for Technology Research and Innovation (BITRI), Ministry of Transport and Communication (MTC), the Ministry of Health and Wellness (MoHW), Botswana Health Information Management Association (BoHIMA) and Health First.
The theme for the conference being `From evidence to Practice: The Implementation of Digital Health Interventions in Africa for Achievement of Universal Health Coverage` with the aim to bring together key stakeholders to discuss issues related to the field of health informatics.
As well as appreciate trends in digital health technology across Africa. Stimulate final discussions and share strategies on how digital health as a field can be institutionalized and incorporated into the health care sector.
Currently Botswana`s eHealth strategy aligns with the 71st World Health Assembly resolution. WHA resolution number 71.7 on digital health adopted by the World Health Organization member states last year.
The resolution urges member states to assess their use digital technologies for health including in health information systems at a national and subnational levels, in order to identify levels of improvement and scale up utilization of digital technologies. As a means of promoting affordable and universal access to health for all including the special needs of groups that are vulnerable in the context of digital health.
Dr Kwape hihlighted the need to be cognizant of Botswana`s strategies and policies on eHealth utilization of ICT developed and regulated by other ministries through the ministry of transport and communication.
On the positives of implementing ICT, Dr Kwape said “benefits of digital health to patient and health care providers include improved outcome, better data sharing, time saving and improved communications are well recognized. Hence encouragement by government for the health sector to provide more digital health services.
Speaking on Behalf of the university of Botswana, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Professor Oathokwa Nkomazana, said “We cannot overemphasize the importance of generating the data and using it. Having worked at all levels of health care system. I know how much data we collect and what usually happens we collect it summarise and send it off somewhere and never hear about it again.”
“The aim of this conference is to build capacity on robust digital health eco-system in Africa and also to try and device strategies on how digital health could be institutionalized and incorporated into the health care sector in Botswana and Africa,” Professor Nkomazana said.