The New Times (Kigali)

Rwanda: Health Experts Train in GIS

HUYE-Twenty health experts from seven African countries have completed a two-week course on Geographic Information System (GIS) with an emphasis on how the technology can help address health challenges in Africa.

Geo-Information tools are a good example of technological achievement with high potential for solving public health challenge

GIS is a set of tools that integrate, store, edit, analyse, share, and display geographic information.

The course was conducted under the theme: "Putting Health on the map: Addressing Public Health Challenges using Spatial Data and Geo-information Tools".

It was organised by the Centre for Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing at the National University of Rwanda (CGIS-NUR), in collaboration with the University of Twente in the Netherlands and the Royal Dutch Tropical Institute (KIT).

Participants were drawn from Rwanda, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi and Tanzania.

Speaking at the closing ceremony on Thursday in Huye, Prof Herman Musahara, the Director of Planning and Development at the NUR, reminded participants that today's technologies offer unparalleled opportunities to improve the health sector.

"Though countries face several public health challenges, the current advances in Information and Communication Technology open opportunities for solving such challenges," Musahara said.

"Geo-Information tools are a good example of technological achievement with high potential for solving public health challenges".

Biram Ndiaye, a UNICEF employee in Burkina Faso, who was among the participants, noted that the course helped them improve their skills in the field of GIS.

As a nutrition and public health expert, he noted that the acquired skills would enable him to serve the population more appropriately.

"We have now realised how important this technology is for our countries," he said.

"With Geo-information technology, we can, for instance, identify areas with the most health problems and help decision makers to act accordingly."

Ndiaye, however, decried the lack of enough qualified personnel and equipment in many African countries.

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