The setting up of telehealth services in the monitoring and management of Covid-19 patients as part of efforts to embrace digital solutions in the provision of health services has been prioritised by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
This comes as the Ministry recently received 130 tablets from the Africa Centres for Disease Control Southern Africa regional collaboration centre meant to enhance the MoHCC's digital access capacity.
The donation was made in partnership with several implementing partners, including African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) Health Africa to coordinate and deploy resources and technical support to Zimbabwe.
The tablets would be used in the management of data within Covid-19 vaccination centres to ensure data is captured in real time.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health Dr Munyaradzi Dobbie said the Government had signalled its intention to embrace digital solutions and interventions as a key component of health sector reform.
"Another key priority going forward is the setting up of Telemedicine/Telehealth capabilities initially for multi-parametric telemonitoring of Covid-19 patient management through the setting up of virtual hospitals," said Dr Dobbie.
"For our Covid-19 response we have been using our existing applications and have also had the opportunity to collaborate with our stakeholders to develop and implement new solutions that are helping to deal with and adapt to the pandemic.
"Therefore, these tablets will go a long way in enhancing real time data collection at entry points, vaccination sites, verify and validate the vaccination certificates."
Dr Dobbie expressed gratitude to Africa CDC for the donation, which is expected to boost the Ministry's capacity and efficiency on the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination campaign.
More partnerships, he said, were needed to enhance security to safeguard against unwarranted access to the health-related data and in technical training and capacity building for health care workers and maintenance of the devices.
"(This will help) to accelerate the rollout/coverage and usage of electronic systems, adopt International Standards for interoperability, to shift to a harmonised procurement of equipment/hardware that can run multiple systems, change management from paper to electronic systems and investment in power back-up and internet connectivity at health facilities," said Dr Dobbie.
Africa CDC southern Africa regional collaboration centre representative, Ms Batsirai Mbodza, said they had stepped up to support the Covid-19 response in African Union member States since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.
She said the donation of tablets would ensure that Zimbabwe continued to make strides in its Covid-19 response and management.
"This response is part of the 'Saving lives and livelihoods' programme, particularly supporting member states in terms of vaccination centres. It includes risk communication and community engagement and even pathogen genomics in the member states and support in terms of data management within the vaccination centres," said Ms Mbodza.
"The tablets in terms of data flow is one important thing to make sure that information is captured in real time, most conveniently and in a way that we see movement of these vaccines.
"Vaccines have to get to the right person at the right time so these tables will go further in terms of data management."