Rwanda: #TAS2019 - Experts Push for Digital Healthcare Solutions

President Paul Kagame, and his counterparts Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya (left), and Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta of Mali pose with copies of Kenyan government’s ‘Digital Economy Blueprint’ on the first day of the 5th Transform Africa Summit in Kigali.

Healthcare professionals on the sidelines of the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali have emphasised the role of adopting digital solutions if the healthcare sector is to transform significantly.

At a session themed "Investing in Digital Health for Family Planning," organised by Imbuto Foundation, healthcare experts argued that integrating mobile technology and other digital platforms into healthcare system will promote the sector and particularly promote family planning.

Dr Okasha Mohamed, the Head of Gynecology Department at Legacy Clinics Kigali, said the possibilities of integrating digital technologies in healthcare systems are endless as it makes sharing of information is easier.

"Digital healthcare can generally be impactful. We believe that digital solutions and ICTs can be used to enhance efficiency of family planning strategies. One example is that it can facilitate and make saving patients data easier," he noted.

Mohamed particularly highlighted that there is need to put efforts in sensitizing hospitals to invest in digital health and promote paperless health system.

Rwanda has been promoting family planning strategies, reducing maternal mortality from 1,071 in 2000 per to 100,000 live births in 2015.

Despite this progress, the country still records mortality rates, both for mothers and infants.

According to the Demographic Health Survey (DHS) 2014/15, neonatal mortality stands at 20 per 1000 live births, infant mortality at 32 per 1000 live births, children under five mortality rates at 210 per 100,000 live births, in addition to high malnutrition rates, with stunting recorded at 38 per cent.

The country also faces an increase in teenage pregnancy, currently estimated at 7.3 per cent. 7 per cent adolescents, aged between 15 - 19 years, are mothers or pregnant with their first child.

On the other hand, Josephine Murekezi, the President of Rwanda Association of Midwives, emphasised that there is a need to encourage more awareness about family planning and through digital channels access to critical information can be easily accessible.

Celestin Twizere, a lecturer at the University of Rwanda, said that countries and their stakeholders should not really shy away from investing in digital health solutions.

"The good news is that investing in digital health is sustainable. When financial and human resources are properly managed, we get a return on investment. Therefore, people should not shy away from investing in this field," he noted.

Josephine Nyiranzeyimana of Rwanda Information Society Agency (RISA) thinks there is a need to focus on youth.

"Let us think of innovative solutions that can address family planning, with a re-invented approach that engages more youth," she said.

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