As the role of digital technologies becomes more critical in healthcare delivery, Seychelles has joined the list of countries seeking to assess their digital readiness using the digital health maturity assessment tool, a resource developed in partnership between the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH), and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The tool helps countries to evaluate and accelerate progress towards digitalising their health services. The tool will help health officials in the Seychelles to assess how the country uses digital technologies to deliver health services and to chart a way forward to close any gaps., a process known as “Digital Health Maturity Assessment”.
At a 4-day workshop held recently in Mahé, senior health officials, digital health experts, the Commonwealth and global partners stressed the significance of conducting such assessments.
In her welcome remarks, Seychelles’ Minister of Health, Hon Peggy Vidot, said:
“In this era marked by rapid technological progress, the integration of digital health solutions emerges as a critical imperative. Seychelles embarks on a transformative journey, leveraging the power of digital innovation to fortify our healthcare system.
“Our ability to measure progress in the digital transformation of our sector is paramount, as what we cannot measure, we cannot improve. To this end, we will employ evidence-based tools to gauge our digital maturity. It is a journey that necessitates collaboration between the government, healthcare providers, technology partners, and active participation from our citizens.”
During the workshop, which was also part of Seychelles’ participation in the joint Commonwealth and WHO Technical Country Support Programme on Enhancing Digital Health Maturity, WHO’s Representative to Seychelles, Dr Rex Mpazanje, said:
“Digital healthcare is probably the most disruptive emerging technology in changing the way healthcare is delivered, managed, and experienced by patients.
“In 2021, countries through the 71st session of the Regional Committee for Africa adopted the WHO global digital health strategy for 2020–2025 for implementation in the Region. Since then, digital maturity assessment has become the prioritised first step with funding support of the Commonwealth Secretariat being channelled through the World Health Organization.”
Principal findings suggest that the Government of Seychelles has made significant progress in its efforts to strengthen digital healthcare systems, including its investment in an Electronic Health Information System. Already, the system has resulted in an integration of digital health platforms into disease surveillance, laboratories and imaging departments. A collaboration with the Department for Information, Communication and Technology also ensures the protection of citizen health records and information.
The findings also suggest that the government has existing mechanisms and committees for digital transformation, which can also be used to strengthen digital healthcare in the country.
Commenting on the assessment, Dr Janneth Mghamba, Health Adviser at the Commonwealth Secretariat said:
“The Commonwealth remains committed to championing digital transformation in health care. It is expected that in completing this assessment, we can support the Ministry of Health, working together with WHO and CWCDH, to formulate strategies and plans, as well as strengthen investments, based on pragmatic targets.
“While the process of undergoing this assessment was crucial, what is even more important is how we use the findings from this workshop to identify key interventions and actions to support the Ministry of Health and its work.”
Reflections and recommendations
During the workshop, group sessions also discussed the digitisation of Zambia's healthcare system, following the country’s successful participation in the WHO and Commonwealth Digital Health Programme where participants built consensus on maturity level scores. The sharing of information about Zambia’s experience was a useful comparison as Seychelles embarks on its own programme.
Similarly, more than 45 participants had in-depth discussions on over 30 indicators to reach a consensus on the maturity level of each indicator and domain for the Seychelles health system.
Key recommendations that bordered on cross-cutting priorities for the Ministry of Health of Seychelles and its partners included:
- Map existing digital solutions, policies and guidelines into a digital health strategy coherent with existing policies, relevant standards and legislation for data storage and security.
- Establish user and patient feedback systems on digital solutions
- Adopt standards for network infrastructure and training.
- Ensure that monitoring and evaluation are part of the implementation
The Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to work closely with WHO and CWCDH to create a summary report and develop further areas of support and technical assistance to the Ministry as it continues to advance digital health efforts.
The workshop outcomes are in line with commitments made by Commonwealth Health Ministers in May 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland, aimed at getting Universal Health Coverage in the Commonwealth on track for 2030.
Ijeoma Onyeator Communications Officer, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat