Vice President John Dramani Mahama yesterday called on African Ministers for Health to define an e-health framework to review policies and strategies for the achievement of major health goals that will extend beyond the Millennium Development Goals.
The Vice President made the call at the opening of a two-day United Nations (UN) Africa Regional Ministerial meeting on e-Health, in Accra last Tuesday.
He said the framework should also take into consideration the needs and resources of Africa and ensure that the continent deploy e-health solutions for the sake of the people.
The meeting, with over 100 participants made up of government Ministers, health experts, policy makers, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and business representatives, is on the theme 'e-Health, Use of Information and Communication Technology for Health'.
Participants will be discussing topics including the Challenge and Sustainability of e-Health in Africa, e-Health Governance, Policies, Strategies and Quality Measures, e-Health and People, Economics, Financing and Partnerships in e-Health and Mobile Communication for Health.
The meeting forms part of the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review to be held as part of the high-level segment of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva in July this year.
The e-Health was established by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2005 to strengthen patient care and health systems by harnessing the power of Information Communication Technologies.
Vice President Mahama noted that Africa needs to take a position in the way and manner Information and Communication Technology (ICT) must be deployed.
Mr Mahama explained that in situations where most health specialists work in teaching hospitals, the use of the e-health will make available the expertise of these specialists available to people living in the rural areas.
The e-health, the Vice President said when systematically implemented will solve to some extent the problems of underdeveloped infrastructure, personnel among others and address the health and medical problems facing the people.
Ms Sylvie Lucas, President of ECOSOC, called for the strengthening of evaluation mechanisms to give policy and decision makers' tools to promote a coherent and coordinated approach.
Thomas Stelzer, Assistant Secretary-General, of the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, said the Department is collaborating with WHO to come out with an initiative to demonstrate the potential of e-health. The initiative, which will be on pilot basis in Unganda and later in Ghana, seeks to draw attention to the enormous untapped potential of e-health worldwide.
The Minister of Health, Dr George Sipa Yankey hoped the initiative will serve as a turning point in the drive to modernize the health services in Africa.