RWANDA: HEALTH experts in the East African Community (EAC) partner states have been urged to use new technologies in controlling emerging diseases.
Speaking when officially opening the Ninth East African Health and Scientific Conference (9th EAHSC) at the Kigali Convention Centre in Rwanda on Wednesday, Rwandan Minister for Health, Dr Sabin Nsanzimana, said digital technologies would enable partner states use limited personnel and resources.
With that, he noted that new technologies would make access to healthcare simpler and better for their citizens, adding that strategising on the scaling up of digital technologies and emphasizing their use would promote real time monitoring of disease outbreaks and responses.
A communique released by the EAC Secretariat Senior Public Relations Officer, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Mr Simon Owaka, had it that Dr Nsazimana observed that the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed African countries to vulnerabilities and gaps in their healthcare systems, adding that there was a need for experts in the health sector to be more innovative, work faster and smarter in improving healthcare.
He underscored the need for robust health systems and preparedness plans and the importance of scientific research and data in evidence-based decision making, in addition to the rapid development of diagnostic tests and vaccines.
Dr Nsanzimana emphasized on the importance of increasing the life expectancy of East Africans, further urging the governments in the EAC partner states to implement the resolutions of the bi-annual health and scientific conferences in order to create better and stronger health systems in the region.
In his remarks, Principal Secretary in the State Department of EAC, Kenya, Dr Abdi Fidhow, disclosed that the Republic of Kenya has been implementing the research findings and recommendations of the previous scientific conferences, adding that the country fully committed to implementing the research findings and recommendations from this Ninth Conference.
On his part, Deputy Executive Secretary of the East African Health Research Commission, Dr Novat Twungubumwe, said the East African Region is threatened both by Communicable and Non-Communicable Diseases.
“We have a number of communicable diseases such as Tuberculosis, Malaria and HIV/AIDS are causing a heavy burden to EAC Citizens’ life and to our economies. Here we may also point out other preventable outbreaks including Cholera, Measles, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), Yellow Fever, among other ailments.
“In the past years, infectious diseases have been major concern in Africa. However, the attention now is slowly shifting toward non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which are on the rise in many parts of Africa due to pollution, westernized diets, reduced physical activity levels, urbanization, and increased tobacco and alcohol consumption, to name a few. Currently, in East Africa, 40 per cent of all deaths are attributable to NCDs,” said the deputy executive secretary.
“We can mention the five major Non-Communicable Diseases that are trying to find their wayin our EAC Citizens’ households which are: cardiovascular diseases, cancers, respiratory diseases, mental illness and diabetes, other non-communicable conditions like sickle cell disease, injuries and disabilities which are highly prevalent in East Africa,” he added.
Also present was Burundi’s EAC Affairs PS, Mr Severin Mbarubukeye, the Under Secretary into the Ministry of Health, South Sudan, Dr Adier Machar Achiek, and Mr Zachee Iyakayemre, the PS in Rwanda’s Ministry of Health.
EAHSC is an EAC biennial event convened in East Africa by the East African Health Research Commission EAHRC in collaboration with a host EAC partner state. Hosting of the event is rotational to each of the partner states and at the partner states level is coordinated through the ministries responsible for EAC affairs, health and other relevant ones.
The event is done in close collaboration with regional and international health-related NGO’s, civil society, individuals and stakeholders. The EAHSC contributes towards strengthening regional cooperation in health and enhances the EAC ideals of free movement of People, Services and Goods.