Nam hosts health information systems forum
Windhoek – Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services is hosting the second regional Health Information Systems (HIS) forum from October 25 to 29. At the forum delegates worked together to develop country specific strategies to strengthen their national HIS and prepare a country-led action plan. The facilitated sessions will help country delegates to reach a common vision and to articulate immediate next steps to implement their country-owned action plans. The forum builds on the 2009 HIS forum which was held in Ethiopia. Participating countries were Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This year’s HIS forum was attended by over 100 delegates from Ministries of Finance, Health, Science, Information and Communication Technology and Central Bureau of Statistics from these Southern African Countries. Speaking at the opening ceremony Namibia’s Health and Social Services Minister Richard Kamwi said the fast pace of development in technology demands that countries identify strategies that most effectively harness the appropriate technology and mechanism to strengthen their HIS. “At the same time, we need to be cautious and aware that what we build now be sustainable, efficient and flexible from a solid foundation for future developments. Therefore, countries need have to be in the driving seat of the deployment of new information and communication technology,” Kamwi stated. Kamwi added: “Let us also be reminded: In the current modern world, information is an asset and a prerequisite for success for policy makers, managers, service providers and our communities. Not only in clinical settings, but also in the policy-making and management world our decisions should be spot on first time.” Health decision-makers at national and international level require evidence to support their investments in one or other intervention in the health sector and other sector. They also require evidence on the results of their investments and they need to be able to compare the benefits of different competing investments. Kamwi said there is no doubt that supporting the establishment and operation of national Health Information systems requires boldness of leadership and perseverance of purpose. He added, information systems are tools for empowering and enhancing decision making and thereby contribute to greater efficiency. Also, he said, costs are much higher if wrong decisions are made or wrong policy is chosen simply because the information needed was not available.