The Ministry of Health, with support from the GIZ Health Sector Programme (technical arm of the German Development Cooperation), has unveiled a project that will apply a needs-oriented E-Health approach in addressing the challenges faced in the health sector. The project, dubbed Innovations Factory, is a unique form of partnership that aims at developing innovative, tailor-made solutions specific to the country’s health sector needs. This project represents a unique kind of cooperation between Kenya and Germany which seeks to facilitate the exchange of ideas and experiences by health sector stakeholders.
A kick-off meeting to unveil this project was held on 21st to 23rd March 2016 in Nairobi. This meeting was graced by the GIZ Health Sector Programme, departments and units within the Ministry of Health, representatives from both national and county governments, academia and the information communication technology sector experts. During this meeting, stakeholders explored possible ideas that could be developed into E-Health solutions and agreed on the possible ways to implement them.
Stakeholders at the meeting noted that the project was timely and came at a time when the government of Kenya had prioritised technological innovations as effective strategies to addressing challenges facing Kenya’s health sector.
“There is political goodwill which had resulted in prioritisation of automation as a key driver to improving health services delivery,” noted Mr. Onesmus Kamau, Ministry of Health. “The project could leverage on the availability and versatility of cheap mobile phones which could transform E-Health innovations,” Mr. Kamau added. Stakeholders however noted that the lack of right skills in in E-Health, lack of a legal framework to govern E-Health and challenges associated with devolution were an impediment to the implementation of E-Health solutions. Other factors sighted as challenges to adoption of technology-based solutions included underdeveloped infrastructure, competing priorities, and lack of nationally adopted standards.
To ensure successful implementation of the Innovative Factory project, participants at the kick-off meeting emphasized the need to work with an interdisciplinary team, involving end users, to come up with the right innovations.
“There is need to involve the end users of an innovation in the development process so as to develop an all rounded initiative that could help solve health problems in the country,” noted Ms. Dorothee Heidhues, GIZ. Participants noted that Kenya was endowed with many young innovators and underscored the need to leverage their skills and knowledge in developing innovations that address health care needs in the country.
The need to learn from previous initiatives was emphasized as critical in avoiding duplication and making improvements on them. “Look for ways to develop innovations that could be piloted and scaled up as necessary and gather information in order to identify who
has done what to learn from and improve on them,” urged Dr. David Soti, Head of Division of Health Informatics, M&E and Research – Ministry of Health.
Additionally, leaders from county governments committed to fully support the Innovation Factory project to improve health service delivery at the county level. “The County Executive Committee Members of Health are willing and committed to work with the Innovations Factory project to come up with initiatives that address health challenges in the country,” noted Dr. Susan Magada, Muranga County Executive Committee Member for Health. The stakeholders also agreed to properly document the innovation factory process in order to build a database for future reference and scale-up.
As next steps, the stakeholders agreed to undertake further consultation with counties, develop and pilot prototypes, and hold innovators workshop to showcase E-Health innovations.2016-06-02
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