Malawi has embarked on a process to make health services record keeping digital to improve efficiency in delivery of services in public hospitals.
The development comes amid growing concerns on operational lapses in the health sector.
During a symposium in Lilongwe yesterday, health sector donors and Ministry of Health (MoH) discussed how to roll out the digital health system in line with the requirements of World Health Organisation (WHO) for member States to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
For Malawi, the proposal has come at a time the country has introduced national identity (IDs) cards in an exercise that has so far captured about 10 million of the 17.5 million population. The mass exercise was age restricted as it captured only those aged 16 and above.
In his keynote address yesterday, Minister of Health Atupele Muluzi acknowledged that the digital health initiative is inspired by national IDs and smartcards which will act as access points for many public services.
Said the minister: “Digitalisation in the health sector will establish a number of successes. Digitisation of patient health records will improve management of health outcomes and the referral process…”
Malawi Health Equity Network (Mhen) executive director George Jobe has hailed the initiative, saying it will help curb drug theft in public hospitals through the tracking system.
Given that the national IDs only captured about 10 million people, Ministry of Health Principal Secretary Dan Namarika said government will put in place a mechanism to ensure that those not yet registered are not barred from accessing services.
National Registration Bureau director Victor Malewa clarified that the bureau will scale up registration from September this year, targeting the under-16 population.
In an interview, German Embassy deputy head of mission Thomas Staiger, who is also chairperson for the health donors committee, commended government for going digital, saying the move will benefit the country by maximising efficiency.