Ghana needs to deploy ICT strategy to achieve MDG on health – Dr Darkwa

Dr. Osei Darkwa

Ghana needs to deploy a comprehensive Information Communication Technology (ICT) strategy to address challenges in the health sector to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) on health by 2015.

Dr Osei Kofi Darkwa, President of Ghana Telecom University College (GTUC), who made the observation at the opening session of a Healthcare and ICT Needs Assessment Stakeholders’ workshop in Accra on Tuesday, said the country’s health system had not fully responded to multiple health challenges confronting it.

The workshop being organised by GTUC in collaboration with Aalborg University of Denmark (AUD), is on the theme: “Improving the Quality of Health Care Delivery in Ghana: The Role of ICT.”

Dr Darkwa cited low quality health services, inefficient use of scarce health resources, shortage and uneven distribution of health resources and inadequate medical information on patients as factors that militated against efficient and effective quality health service delivery.

He however, suggested that the power of ICT could be harnessed to address the challenges in health delivery, training and medical education.

“Information technology holds the potential to revolutionalise health care practice in Ghana and other parts of the world. ICT applied to health care delivery could help increase the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of health services,” he added.

Dr Darkwa added that use of ICT would enable knowledge to be exchanged as well as providing the basis for networks of professionals to be supported by their peers and educators.

He noted that application of Information Technology had led to innovations in health care services that included telemedicine, tele-health, tele-pharmacy and medical informatics.

Dr Darkwa said positive effects of applications of ICT in health care delivery system in countries such as Mozambique, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa could be replicated in Ghana to help transform the country’s health sector.

He expressed the hope that participants, drawn from the ICT and health sectors, would brainstorm on telemedicine and mobile health, ICT and National Health Insurance Schemes, ICT and Health Information Management and ICT and Health Care Quality Assurance and submit proposals to move ICT in healthcare delivery to the next level.

Professor Knud Erik Skouby of AUD, who underscored the importance of collaboration between Ghana and Denmark, said the outcome of the workshop would be submitted to Denmark for funding.

Prof. Nii Quaynor, Board Chairman of National Information Technology Agency, called on the participants to collaborate with other professionals to ensure success of the programme.

He however, cautioned that privacy of data collected on patients and other stakeholders should be managed.

Mr Isaac Adams, Director of Research Statistics and Management, Ministry of Health, said development of Ghana’s health infrastructure had lagged behind due to inadequate investment.

He expressed deep concern over the brain drain syndrome describing it as a bane to development of the health sector.

Mr Adams expressed hope that deployment of ICT would adequately address developmental gaps in the health sector.

Source: GNA

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