Editor's Comment

E-health cards: That’s way to go

WHEN President Edgar Lungu addressed the second session of the 12th National Assembly on September 15, 2017, he emphasised the important role information and communications technology (ICT) plays in Zambia’s socio-economic development.
In a nutshell, it is ICT that has brought about electronic governance or e-governance.
E-governance is the application of information and communication technology for delivering government services, exchange of information, communication transactions, integration of various stand-alone systems and services.
This is done between government-to-citizen, government-to-business, government-to-government, government-to-employees, as well as back-office processes and interactions within the entire government framework.
This approach taken by Government to drive the country towards this paperless initiative has many advantages, which include a significant cut in costs as well as enhanced efficiency.
The e-government system is already helping Government to save K72 million through the introduction of electronic payslips for civil servants as Cabinet Office is operating without paper.
Further, Government has reduced costs on cabinet business annually from K68 million to K10.2 million. The cost has been reduced by 85 percent. The monies saved could go towards servicing other sectors of the economy.
The Smart Zambia institute, a division under the Office of the President mandated to provide e-government to the Public Service for improved service delivery, is tasked to move Zambia towards a digital economy by 2030
This has seen the digital-driven economy being rolled out throughout the country. The smart care System has now been activated in several health facilities across the country.
The smart care system is an electronic gadget through which a patient’s health record is filed and retrieved electronically. These records are easily accessed by authorised personnel and this helps quicken the process of medical staff attending to patients.
The system will guarantee patients’ confidentiality because the entry to the data is by a password and all entries can be traced.
Ministry of Health spokesperson Abel Kabalo notes that when patients visit a Health facility that is active on the health care system, they are requested to register for a health care card putting away the old manual book record system.
Such a system will bring about quality service and efficiency in record keeping as well as easy retrieval of patient information.
The perpetual long queues at health facilities will be a thing of the past as patients’ medical records will be retrieved at the click of a button.
A patient will merely have to hand in their card to health personnel and all their medical records will be accessible.
The days of patients moving with bulky files from one room to the next will be a thing of the past. There is also a high possibility of manual book records going missing which has affected service delivery.
Instead of patients being attended to, the service is diverted to a search for a patient’s medical records. Sometimes they are traced, other times they’re not.
This has at times seen patients start the whole tedious process of going through medical tests or the risk of administering wrong medication because their medical history is unknown to that particular health personnel. This a risk especially to those patients with chronic illnesses.
The paperless pilot project was initially launched in four health facilities, namely New Chipata District Hospital, Women and New Born hospital at the University Teaching Hospitals in Lusaka, Livingstone General Hospital and Arthur Davison Hospital in Ndola.
Other countries are embracing technology and Zambia cannot afford to lag behind. For instance, it took Estonia 22 years to get to almost 100 percent of being a paperless economy.
For Zambia, it is planned that it takes 12 years to get to that level. The Government has also ensured that the network is upgraded to ensure that there are no interruptions in service delivery.
The smart card system is an environmentally friendly approach and people should embrace this change for the betterment of this country.

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