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National eHealth Coordination Hub launched

National eHealth Coordination Hub launched

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the Information and Communications Ministry has officially launched its National eHealth Coordination Hub at the Shangri-La Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.  Photo: Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo

Making his statement, the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Brima Kargbo described the event as a timely and relevant initiative, particularly with the rapid expansion in the use of Information, Communication Technology (ICT) for health in the country since the Ebola outbreak.

He reiterated that the initiative is led by the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communications and supported by UNICEF with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dr. Kargbo told his audience that the eHealth Coordination Hub is being established specifically to help coordinate and regulate the many digital health initiative that are currently being deployed in Sierra Leone, adding that it will entail an on-going inclusive, consultative process involving a wide range of stakeholders.

He noted that the eHealth Coordination Hub is a joint coordination and regulatory body to ensure that all digital health initiative in Sierra Leone are aligned with national health priorities and are deployed in a sustained manner in order to contribute towards building a strong and resilient health system.

Earlier, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer 11, Dr. Amara Jambai in his remarks described the eHealth as the future of health care delivery, with the potential to fast-track country health reform towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Universal Health Care (UHC), adding that the initiative will help to strengthen the health information systems and support the delivery of high quality health care services at large.

The Director of Communications, Ministry of Information and Communications, Bakarr Tarawally said part of his Ministry’s mission is to support the work of government to develop the ICT sector in Sierra Leone. He said it will enable the deployment of information systems that can support the effective delivery of services to all the citizens of Sierra Leone.

He said investing and developing the ICT sector and services in Sierra Leone can provide the government with some of the tools needed to help address challenges that may be faced by the health sector in Sierra Leone.

Mr. Tarawally stated that the Information Ministry’s vision clearly shared with the Health Ministry to ensure that the citizen have access to timely, accurate, clear and objective information on national and international issues of relevance.

The Deputy Chief of Mission, United States Embassy, Laurie Meininger described eHealth as a rapidly growing field that is becoming an increasingly invaluable tool for strengthening health systems in developing countries.

She said the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreaks in West Africa brought global attention to the weak state of health systems in the three most affected countries including Sierra Leone.

The Deputy Chief of Mission disclosed that since the end of the epidemic, the U.S. Government has made over $3 million worth of investment in eHealth and health information systems strengthening in Sierra Leone.

She reiterated that a well-developed and well-utilized eHealth ecosystem can help address many of the challenges faced by health systems in low-income and developing countries.

Laurie Meininger said the launch of eHealth with the establishment of a government led coordinating and regulatory mechanism is a step in the right direction, especially the growing importance of eHealth in global health.

The UNICEF Representative, Geoff Wiffin said digital health has the potential to be a game change for Sierra Leone in addressing the critical challenges faced by the health system and increasing the availability and quality of the health services.

Other highlights include key statement by the Director of Policy, Planning and Information, Dr. Samuel Kargbo and presentation on the eHealth Coordination Hub by Research Specialist Edward Foday of the same Directorate.

By Kadrie Koroma

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