Uganda Roots for Electronic Early-Warning

The health ministry is investing in electronic systems to help curb the outbreak of infectious diseases such as Marburg, Ebola and other chronic illnesses among others.

This is being done by setting up such structures as the East African Diseases Outbreak Surveillance system.

The system will be able to alert the ministry of any outbreaks in the Country.

There is also a focus on Mother-to-Child transmission which is addressing the three delays that prevent mothers from accessing maternal health services and so on.

Speaking during a conference organiz ed by Mobile Monday Kampala, Dr Eddie Mukooya assistant commissioner resource ministry of health said with in the ministry, a resource centre whose mandate is to oversee all electronic health information system investment has been created.

He said “significant investments have been made in variety of MoH owned systems including DHIS2, iHRIS, CHMS and RapidPro. These tools are now being used to work in an integrated environment.”

According to him these tools have contained the outbreak of certain diseases which would have spread rapidly if such systems weren’t in existence.

Besides that, they have helped in provision of quality diagnosis since systems have been put in place to reduce errors in confirming health conditions of communities and individuals.

He said: “The MoH mTrac hotline received over 2500 reports per week in October after a case of Marburg was confirmed in the country. The resource centre was able to provide Epidemiological surveillance department with regular updates on potential new outbreaks, which were immediately investigated.”

However, he noted that not all components of the ministry’s larger toolsets were being utilized and called upon information technology experts to develop innovative tools that can be incorporated in the already existing ones.

Mukooya said: “By developing a g information system at the household, community, district and national level, this will provide foundation for real time information sharing.”

He called for efficient use of existing infrastructure through harmonisation of existing IT tool so as to impact the healthcare strategies.

He said: “Policy makers benefit from using new problem solving tools as part of updating their preparedness. Leveraging existing infrastructure, tools, with an enterprise level healthcare infrastructure management approach will provide opportunities for improving efficiencies, thus providing better healthcare.”

The hope is that the use of these new tools, in adherence to the new standards, will allow for earlier detection of possible outbreaks, by better surveillance methods that, in turn will enable a smarter, more rapid response by officials to contain the threat of an outbreak.

In 2011, the ministry established the eHealth technical working group which governs and provides oversight for these programmes. In 2013, the resource centre developed the national health records programme strategy which provides overall framework and guiding principles.

The MoH national health records programme strategy is based on developing standard frameworks for enterprise level health system architecture and come up with health information tools based on current Information Technology tools.

Source : East African Business Week

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