This week from 5th- 7th July 2023, the Government of Zambia’s Ministry of Health, in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH), and the World Health Organization (WHO), is hosting a 3-day workshop under the Commonwealth Technical Country Support Programme on Enhancing Digital Health Maturity.
The workshop aims to assess the maturity and capacity of Zambia’s digital health systems, with a focus on identifying key opportunities to implement and scale up standards-based digital health solutions that can contribute to strengthened digital transformation within the country.
The programme, initiated in 2022, forms part of the Technical Working Group on Strengthening Digital Health, and in addition to Zambia, has 7 other countries that will join this first phase of the implementation. Following Zambia's acceptance to participate, representatives from Zambia, the Commonwealth Secretariat, CWCDH, and the WHO have collaborated to ensure maximum benefits for the country.
The in-person meeting, taking place in Lusaka, Zambia, brings together key stakeholders of digital health from various levels of the Government of Zambia including the Ministry of Health, the eGovernment Division, and implementing partners, alongside representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat, WHO, and the CWCDH. The workshop will utilise the Commonwealth Digital Health Maturity Assessment (CWDHMat) tool, developed jointly between the Commonwealth Secretariat, CWDH and WHO to evaluate the country's progress on digital health and plan for in-country support.
In her opening remarks, Dr Janneth Mghamba, Adviser in Health, Social and Policy Development at Commonwealth Secretariat said:
"Digital health is now increasingly recognised as an essential means of achieving universal health coverage, given its ability to widen access to health services. This programme presents a unique joint approach, leveraging expertise from all entities to accelerate and scale the digital transformation within local healthcare systems."
The WHO has served as a key partner in the development and implementation of the programme, with representatives from HQ and the Zambia Country Office in attendance. The WHO Representative to Zambia, Dr Nathan Nsubuga Bakyaita, shared his perspective:
“This workshop could not have come at a better time than this when some preliminary work has already been done and there is a hunger for more digital/e-health solutions… I believe that this workshop will provide an opportunity for reflection on the implementation progress of the strategy, and identify further areas of action toward building a robust digital health system that enables the country to achieve its public health targets. We look forward to a succinct report with a clear way forward.”
The schedule for the in-person workshop includes comprehensive sessions related to Governance and National Ownership, Health Process Domain Components, Foundation Components - eHealth Infostructure, and Foundation Components - ICT Infrastructure. The workshop will conclude with the identification of recommendations and next steps to advance digital health maturity levels, supporting Zambia to move forward in its digital health journey.
Director of Information Communications at the Ministry of Health, Mr Andrew Kashoka, said:
“Zambia has made a strong investment in strengthening digital health systems within the country, as evidenced in our 8th National Plan 2022-2026, which prioritises digital innovation, digital skills enhancement, and the promotion of digital services as key elements of national industrialization and economic development. This collaboration with the Commonwealth and the WHO is invaluable in our pursuit of technological advancement and improving healthcare for our citizens.”
The Ministry of Health's 2022-2026 Digital Health Strategy will be a key document taken into consideration during the assessment workshop, providing an opportunity to reflect on the progress made and identify further areas of action.
Following the workshop, Zambia will receive a Summary Report outlining strengths, weaknesses, and recommendations for further development. The country will also benefit from remote coaching and mentoring provided by a Commonwealth Digital Health Fellow, offering technical expertise and guidance.
- Rena Gashumba Communications Adviser, Communications Division, Commonwealth Secretariat
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