CS Kagwe tells global forum Kenya committed to Digital Health and exploring Telemedicine with Huawei
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe says innovation and technology will play a critical role in the government’s Universal Health Coverage plan.
According to the Health CS, the Ministry is developing a Digital Health Platform that will help improve efficiency and effectiveness of services offered in healthcare facilities, while at the same time improve on accountability and transparency in the use of resources deployed to the healthcare sector.
“This platform will enable real time collection of patient data and further provide a platform for integration with other critical databases,” said Kagwe.
He was speaking during a virtual address to the Langrenyuan Forum on South-South Cooperation and Development, which was attended by global health and technology leaders including Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO); Peter Sands, Executive Director of the Global Fund; Han Qide, Vice Chairman of Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China; Sid Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China; and Faustine Ndugulile, Minister of Communication, Science & Technology, the United Republic of Tanzania.
In his speech at the event themed: “A Digital Path to Health for All” CS Kagwe pointed out that highly skilled healthcare workers’ distribution in Kenya is skewed towards urban sites, leaving the rural areas poorly staffed, adding that this unequal distribution affects Healthcare Infrastructure as well and therein lies the advantages in ICT.
“If we cannot provide enough skilled staff in all our health facilities, we can surely take the skilled staff to the rural areas through Telemedicine,” he said.
“It is time that we looked into Teleconsultations and Tele-referrals as part of the things that are the new normal. There is no better time than this, especially because of the Covid-19 restrictions. And this in the long-term may be seen to become a silver lining during this pandemic.”
CS Kagwe thanked Huawei Kenya for helping launch a pilot telemedicine project saying: “Coupled with support from Huawei Technologies, Kenya is now piloting a model to roll out telemedicine between our National Referral Hospital and a far flung County called Isiolo”.
He thanked the Chinese government for their financial support for the National Optic Fibre Backbone Intrastructure and Konza City which are critical for digital heal, and concluded by calling on partners to seize this chance and support countries, especially in Sub-Sahara Africa where uptake of Health technologies is still low.
On his part, Dr Sitienei, Head of the Department of Health Sector Monitoring, Evaluation and Informatics at the Ministry of Health provided a detailed overview of the Ministry’s Digital Health and Telemedicine plans.
Kenya’s efforts were lauded at the conference by Sid Chatterjee, UN Resident Coordinator in China, who had previously served in the same role in Kenya and commended the leadership of Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe.
“I think what Huawei and the Kenyan government and civil society and the UN system are managing to do is really setting a new model for how public-private partnerships are going to work,” said Sid Chatterjee.
The forum was organized by Peking University National School of Development (PKU-NSD) in collaboration with the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation (CAITEC) and China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT)
Dr Sitienei from the Ministry of Health delivering a presentation explaining the role of digital health and telemedicine in Kenya’s Universal Health Coverage plan.
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