Rwandan Leader Says Information Technology to Ease Health Service Delivery
Text of report in English by Rwandan news agency RNA
Bellagio, 4 August: President Paul Kagame said on Monday [4 August] that the ongoing programme to wire up Rwanda will ease health service delivery for its people – “the vast majority” of who live in rural areas, RNA reports.
“The increased bandwidth will allow us to send digital radiology images from district hospitals to experts in our capital Kigali, and outside the country”, Kagame told an e-health conference in Italy.
“Given that the overwhelming majority of our population lives in rural areas, this will allow many more patients to easily secure specialist opinion at significantly reduced cost.”
The month-long conference that has been running from 13 July to 8 August in Bellagio Italy, is organized by the Rockefeller Foundation. Delegates have been discussing accelerating innovative applications of emerging digital technologies to improve the health of poor and vulnerable people around the world – a field known as e- health.
Detailing the different projects being developed to expand outreach of communications technologies, Mr Kagame said Rwanda wants to use this “prerequisite infrastructure” to modernize the economy and bring healthcare closest to its people.
There is an ongoing building of fibre optic backbone due for completion by the end of next year, he said. Rwanda is also rolling out broadband network coverage – first in Kigali – to expand countrywide in one year, the delegates were told.
President Kagame said the broadband expansion is also helping to ease the training of health care professionals. At present the three teaching hospitals are connected via video-conferencing – providing infrastructure for lectures, meetings and workshops.
“Expertise is thus more widely shared and in time”, he said, adding that the e-learning tool will be rolled out nationally to include all hospitals.
A drug inventory and procurement system has been introduced to aid the authorities track the distribution of medicines, Mr Kagame said.
After an initial pilot phase that has been at one centre, the system is to be extended to more facilities to assist in ‘tracking the quantity and expiry dates of drugs, so that they are used safely and efficiently’.
Mr Kagame also told his high-profile audience of the TRACnet project that is linking up health centres providing ARVs to patients.
The government, partnering with a US firm project – is connecting up to 178 sites caring for some 55,000 patients that are on ARVs.
“TRACnet is successful because it was designed as a bottom up model that links record systems in health centres, and antiretroviral therapy sites across the country, to a central data warehouse”, he said.
TRACnet has been adopted by another international partnership for the “phone for health” initiative targeting malaria and tuberculosis across the continent.
“We keep reminding ourselves in Rwanda that healthcare is about the patient. We are certain that all these efforts under way are already making a difference”, Kagame said amid applause from the audience.
Originally published by RNA news agency, Kigali, in English 4 Aug 08.
(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Africa. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.