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GIZ co-organizes second ICT for UHC conference in Manila

Measuring and Achieving Universal Health Coverage with Information and Communication Technology in Asia and the Pacific, 2-3 December 2014

A joint initiative

On December 2-3, approximately 290 health and social protection experts from the Asia and Pacific region, government representatives and representatives from international organisations came together in Manila to exchange knowledge on health system improvements using Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The positive impacts of ICT to health information systems strengthening relevant for the progress measurement and achievement of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) was particularly emphasised.  The conference was a joint initiative of the Asia eHealth Information Network, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and was co-organized by a number of other development partners, among them the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

In his welcome remarks, ADB President Nakao emphasized the importance of UHC to quality of life, inclusive growth and sustainable economic development and the key role played by ICT in strengthening health systems.

GIZ delegates on the investment case for ICT

Dr. Inge Baumgarten, head of GIZ’s health section, and Kelvin Hui, acting principal advisor for GIZ in Bangladesh, took part in the plenary panel session “Developing the Investment Case for ICT for Achieving UHC”. The session was designed to equip participants with lessons learned and success stories, allowing them to better build their arguments for increasing investments into ICT within their country’s health systems. 

In her presentation Baumgarten examined lessons learned from GIZ’s collaboration with various partner countries globally including from its cooperation with Bangladesh (see A Quiet Revolution: Strengthening the routine health information system in Bangladesh
She highlighted some key success factors for ICT in the health sector, such as a sound implementation plan, cooperation with the private sector and the need for good ICT governance. 

Kelvin Hui facilitated this session in which the other panellist shared success stories from India, the Philippines and Mongolia, all of them making a strong case for increasing country investments in ICT for health systems. From its global perspective, WHO reemphasized the absolutely crucial role ICT plays in the journey towards achieving UHC.

The different strands and results of the panel discussion were also captured in a mind map.

Other highlights

Other interesting contributions to the conference included 

  • WHO’s presentation of its Health Information and Intelligence Platform (HIIP), a collaborative public health platform that bridges the gap between the WHO Global Health Observatory and country level health information systems. The focus of the platform is to support countries to enhance their own health information systems and improve nationally reported health statistics; 
  • India’s Prime Minister Modi’s presentation of the ‘Digital India’ initiative which also includes ehealthcomponents

Reactions and ‘Ten Commitments’

The participants were quite enthusiastic about the conference in general, and many of them lauded itsinteractive methodologies which sparked many fruitful discussions amongst delegates. They also appreciated the market place, a session format which many delegates used to showcase their latest tools and innovations.

The conference concluded with the “Ten ICT commitments”:

  1. Know your baseline
  2. Get everyone on board and bring your best team
  3. Adopt, adapt or develop tools
  4. Commit to UHC, commit to integrated ICT systems
  5. Invest in Unique ID and link CRVS to UHC efforts
  6. Build institutional readiness and a ICT skilled workforce
  7. Keep data safe and secured
  8. Plan for sustainable financing mechanism from the start
  9. Get concrete with an implementation plan
  10. Define success, measure progress

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