EAST AFRICA: THE East African Community (EAC) is set to develop Health Data Governance to foster digital transformation and innovations in the health sector in the region.
According to a press statement availed to the media by EAC Senior Public Relations Officer Simon Owaka, the EAC Secretariat, together with the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) and the Pan African Health Informatics Association (HELINA), has committed to fostering stronger health data governance to drive digital transformation and innovations in the health sector in East Africa.
The commitment was made by all three parties during the conclusion of two days of a Consultative Forum on Health Data Governance held in Kigali, Rwanda.
He noted that, the two-day forum, aimed to sensitise EALA members on the importance of developing the EAC Regional Health Data Governance (HDG) framework and similar initiatives for the African Union with a view to building consensus through the African Common Position that is part of the Africa Centre for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) digital transformation flagship project on HDG.
Speaking during the opening session of the forum, Dr Eric Nzeyimana, the EAC Principal Health Officer, said that the EAC is keen on developing the EAC Regional Data Government Framework in order to implement the directive of the 23rd Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health, which was held in February this year, that directed the EAC Secretariat to develop the regional Data Governance Framework.
Dr Nzeyimana said the process of developing the framework on Health Data Governance is already underway, adding that EALA has become the first EAC Organ to be consulted on the process.
“I assure you (members) that the fully-fledged EAC Health Data Governance Framework is expected to be in place within six months,” he said.
He added that, in order to fully realize the benefits of digital transformation in the region, it is essential to establish robust and effective governance frameworks for the health data that is being shared.
“The Health Data Governance framework is key in managing risks, safeguarding individual rights, and so forth,” he noted.
Dr Nzeyimana further informed the legislators that the EAC Health Data Governance Framework is expected to be approved by the forthcoming 24th EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health that is expected to take place in early next year.
Moreover, he commended the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA)-funded Integrated Health Programme (EIHP) and the USAID-funded Local Health System Sustainability (LHSS) project for their financial support towards the development of the EAC Health Data Governance framework.
In line with that, he also hailed HELINA as EAC’s newest strategic partner, adding that the two will continue collaborating to transform the health sector in the EAC region with digital technologies
The Chairperson of the EALA General Purpose Committee, Dr Kennedy Mukulia, said that the committee, through its legislative, oversight and representative mandate, has a crucial role in advancing the digital health agenda and strengthening health data governance in the EAC region.
The president of HELINA, Mr Steven Wanyee, emphasised HELINA’s determination through Transform Health in its commitment to realise Africa CDC’s flagship Initiative on Health Data Governance in Africa.
Transform Health is a coalition of more than 150 organisations committed to harnessing the potential of digital tools and data to achieve UHC by 2030, with a focus on the individuals and communities who are most affected by the lack of access to equitable, affordable, and high-quality healthcare.