A regional ICT forum on the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project (EAPHLN) kicked off, yesterday, in Kigali.
The five-day workshop aims at establishing efficient, high quality, accessible public health laboratories network for the diagnosis, surveillance of Tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
Speaking on behalf of the Health Minister, the head of e-Health, Dr. Richard Gakuba, said that the meeting will provide opportunities, not only to ICT professionals, but to healthcare providers also.
“Our partner states are at different stages of development in as far as ICT in laboratories is concerned. It is therefore, through such a forum that the EAC bloc will continue to share experience and learn from each other,” he stressed.
Gakuba advised medics and lab technicians to use the opportunity to improve the quality of their services through discussions, sharing experiences and brainstorming on the challenges that affect laboratory progress in their respective countries.
In May last year, the World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved US$63.66m to support Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda to create a regional network of 26 public health laboratories.
The Kigali meeting brings together ICT professionals working on the public health laboratories for the diagnosis project to review the modalities for working together and agree on priority activities of the working group.
Speaking on behalf of the World Bank, Dr. Chris Masila, acknowledged Rwanda’s leadership in ICT and its determination in prioritising ICT in the country’s development efforts.
“We now look forward to Rwanda to provide similar leadership in the context of the East Africa Public Health Laboratory Networking Project,” he said.
Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Global Fund and World Bank Project Management Unit (PMU) coordinator, stressed that Rwanda was chosen to lead the regional ICT working group and promote performance based financing (PBF) approaches for laboratory services.
“The network of laboratories will improve access to diagnostic services by vulnerable populations in cross-border areas. It will also enhance contribution of laboratories for disease surveillance through usage of internet and mobile communication,” Ngamije explained.
He added that five laboratories of the EAPHLN project had been established at hospitals in Kibungo, Rubavu, Rusizi, Nyagatare and Byumba.