Vice President calls for Digital Health investment in the EAC

29 Mar 2019

The Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania, H.E, Samia Hassan Suluhu, has called on East African Community Partner States to invest in Digital Health Technology if the region is to fully implement the Sustainable Development Goals and address all aspects of poverty. “Investing in Health Sector and relevant digital technologies iskey for our development that we need to pursue more aggressively as a region,” said Hon. Suluhu. The Vice-President was speaking during the official opening ceremony of the 7th East African Health and Scientific Conference (EAHSC), which took place at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She said Science and technology is an important and vital tool in addressing fundamental gaps in the health sector. “I wish to commend the organizers for the timely and relevant selection of the theme. Technology for health systems transformation and attainment of the UN-Sustainable Development Goals. This theme comes at an opportune moment as the world is in its fourth industrial revolution where science and technology is taking the lead in all aspects,” added the Vice President. The Vice president informed the conference that the approval of the Digital Regional East African Community Health (Digital REACH) 10 year strategic plan by the Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health held in Kigali on 26th October, 2018 was an important step towards achieving transformation in the sector. “I expect that Digital REACH will support the development and implementation of regional health programmes, within existing EAC Regional policies and legal frameworks as provided by the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community and as desired by each of the EAC Partner States,” she said. H.E. Hassan told the participants at the conference that digital health initiatives have been proven as one of the enablers of Sustainable Development Goals in developed countries and a lot of pilot projects all over the world are confirming the same to be the case in low- and middle-income country settings. “I therefore encourage Partner States to support the new development in EAC Partner States and call upon the region to work together through Digital Health Technology and reiterate the commitment of the United Republic of Tanzania to take advantage of Digital Health technology to improve implementation of health sector interventions, with the aim of accelerating attainment of the Universal Health Coverage and SDGs.’’ On his part, the Chairperson of the Sectoral Council on Health and Ministers of State of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, said the digital age was transforming the entire health sector and how healthcare was delivered.

“In fact Digital Health solutions can increase access to health services, deliver training for health professionals, provide better diagnostics and health information,” said Dr. Ndimubanzi, who is also Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Public Health and Primary Healthcare. Dr. Ndimubanzi told the conference that ICT and digital health solutions offered the prospect of bringing into reach universal health coverage and the prospect of making health and wellbeing for all a reality by 2030. “I am glad to note that the 19th Ordinary Summit of Heads of EAC Partner States held in Kampala in February 2018, committed to invest in Digital Health Technology, as one of the health sector investment priorities for the region for the next 10 years; for better research for health, health services delivery and health outcome,” said Dr. Ndibumanzi. The Chair the Sectoral Council call upon the region to put in place strategic policies and practical interventions that can help the EAC Region to boost the uptake of digital health technology. Representing the EAC Secretary General, Amb Liberat Mfumukeko, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, said Conference contributes towards strengthening regional cooperation in health in line with Article 118 of the Treaty that established the EAC as well as relevant provisions of the EAC Common Market Protocol which provides a platform or knowledge sharing among health professional in the EAC region. He urged the EAC Partner States to align their Digital Health strategies and activities with Digital REACH Initiative and to support initiative that complements the national initiatives. Eng. Mlote said that the conference is expected to come up with the relevant and realistic recommendations for the improvement of health care and delivery through application of technologies for the improvement of the health and the wellbeing of citizens of the Community will be made. During the official opening, the Vice-President also launched the Digital REACH initiative Strategic Plan 2019-2018, East African Web Portal for Health Information and Young East African Research Scientists (YEARS) forum. The East African Health and Scientific Conference is biennial and organized on rotational basis within the EAC Partner States.



Based on the Keynotes Speech, Parallel Sessions and Symposia Presentations, the conference recommends that EAC should:

1. Expedite development and application of innovative approaches (such as the cross boarder health unit model) to cross boarder health, disease outbreak, preparedness and

   response in boarder areas while adding values to the national health system.

2. Promote establishment of national bio banks and data repositories among the Partner States and develop a regional policy for guiding the use and security of the repositories.

3. Urge the Partner States to participate in development, evaluation and formalization of emerging technologies intended for promoting digital health.

4. Harmonise the regional IP policy to guide development and uptake of digital health technologies.

5. Strengthening platform for digital inclusion where communities have full access to information on surveillance and disease management.

6. Urge the Partner States to fast track the adoption and implementation of Evidence Based Surveillance and enhance mechanisms of sharing information and best practice.

7. Enhance coordination and collaboration between East African countries and international Institutions involved in diseases control including African CDC.

8. Urge the Partner States to promote the involvement of frontline healthcare workers in the design of digital health tools to ensure readiness, for easy adoption, decreasing cost, and

    increased sustainability.

9. Develop and adopt innovative Regional PPP policies and models specific to digital health Technologies.