4 May 2018

Zambia: ICT Boosts Smart Health Care Delivery

The advancement of Information Communication Technology (ICT) systems which has given birth to Smart Care in the world has brought necessary enhancement of quality service deliveries in all sectors that revolve around human kind.

Many countries are striving to invest in upgrading ICTs so that the continuity of easier service deliveries would be aptly achieved.

Zambia is one of the countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa that is working so hard to ensure that Information Communication Technology systems and smart care services are attained and rolled out in all parts of the country including the remote areas.

Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska says Zambia under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu has embarked on a robust movement of installing communication towers in all parts of the country so that communications could be heightened everywhere.

Dr Msiska was recently in Chipata District in Eastern Province to witness the pilot project of the Electronic Health Management Systems (EHMS) carried out by the ministry of health to enhance smart care.

Briefing Eastern Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kasolo at his office, Dr Msiska said Government had realised that ICT which is the "mother" of smart care was extremely important in all sectors for quality service delivery to benefit people.

He said once all rural areas were installed with communication towers, the service deliveries that need smart care would be enhanced and be a success to Government's desire.

Dr Msiska said because of that Government was with the serious view of ensuring that most rural communities are connected to the information communication technology systems.

"The Zambian Government under the leadership of President Lungu is determined to increase the number of communication towers up to 95 per cent. The Government aims at installing the towers in all parts of the country to ensure that digital service delivery is enhanced despite being in the rural communities, " he said.

Mr Kasolo commended the Secretary to the Cabinet for towering Eastern province.

Mr Kasolo noted that digital services were always quicker and accurate in service delivery to lessen work between staff and clients in all departments.

The Eastern province senior Government official cited the services that happen at border posts as ones that could be achieved in the quickest possible time once used in a smart care or digital way.

"I wish to commend the Government (through you the Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Roland Msiska) for coming up with a deliberate policy of ensuring that rural communities also have good number of communication towers.

"This means that once we have more communication towers here in rural areas, we shall be connected to all communication systems and smart care services will be achieved in all sectors and our people will be living like their colleagues in urban areas," Mr Kasolo noted.

And Dr Msiska witnessed the launch of the pilot project of Electronic Health Management Systems at Chipata District hospital.

The project is being carried out by the Ministry of Health and aims at using smart care or an ATM card like to install the information of patients opposing to the usual system of using papers to record all information of patients.

Dr Msiska commended the ministry of health for adopting a smart care systems in its operations, saying the system was good especially in this digital era.

Dr Msiska emphasised that President Lungu was working hard to have network towers in most parts of the country so that the delivery of all digital services would be fully enhanced.

"This is a very good programme because it reduces on the number of things that seem to delay quality health service delivery.

"It will reduce the cost of papers in the sector, it will also reduce time that patients spend at the registry or records department as the card would just be swiped in computers than the system of retrieving files," he noted.

The programme will help health workers to deliver services to the patients in a shortest possible time.

And briefing Mr Msiska at Chipata District hospital during the same launch, Ministry of Health spokesperson Maxmillion Bweupe said the Electronic Health Management Systems would be used in service departments of hospitals and clinics.

Dr Bweupe named service departments as records, laboratory, antenatal, doctors' rooms and mother and child health among others.

He said those departments where patients or clients used to submit their information and recorded on papers will now have such information taken down and be installed just in a card and once the same card is inserted in the computer, the information would appear on the screen.

The spokesperson explained that the smart care would also reduce on paper work in hospitals and clinics to enhance quick health service deliveries.

"The smart card system is going to be used to have all the information of the patient making it easier for both clerical workers and medical personnel to attend to the patients in shortest period of time.

This programme aims at reducing on time that patients spend in the records department as they wait to have their cards retrieved by the clerical officer and then written on and later taken to the doctor.

"This system would just allow a clerical officer to swipe the smart card in the computer and allow the patient to be ushered into the doctor's room for screening," Dr Bweupe said.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Health Principal Information Communication Technology Officer Sam Phiri says the programme in Chipata would be rolled out to all 40 health facilities by the end of this 2018.

He said the district has got 65 health facilities but the ministry had targeted to capture 40 of them, especially those which have connected to power or solar systems as computers can only work where there is enough energy.

Mr Phiri explained that the introduction of smart care would enable doctors to administer aptly treatment on patients despite a patient being a new client to another doctor.

"The smart care card shall always have all information on each patient. So if a patient goes with his card to another area, the doctor there would just insert the same card in the computer and all information would appear giving the new doctor history of the patient and be able to know what medicine to prescribe," he said.

Dr Msiska also noted that the move would also cut on the number of labour force that would be needed, especially in the records department.

He noted that with the introduction of smart cards where four clerical officers were needed, Only one clerical officer would be required to handle a large number of patients in a few hours without even getting tired.

Chipata District is the second district the ministry has instituted a pilot project of smart care as the first one was Livingstone. Soon, the ministry will go to Mansa District in Luapula province.

Dr Msiska noted that the system of smart care is a superb one because the country is now in an advanced era of ICTs so everything should be done in a digital way to ensure easier and safer way of keeping information.

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