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April 26, 2023 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Digital Health Project team in collaboration with GIZ  is holding  a Regional Advocacy meeting for the Implementation and domestication of the Cross Border Policy, focusing on the role of digital health in disease surveillance under the IGAD Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy Framework in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The general objective of the meeting is to conduct an advocacy and create awareness of the IGAD Regional Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy among the Ministries of Health within IGAD region to reinforce their commitment to domesticate and develop the national data sharing and protection policies in all IGAD Member States.

Dr. Ruth Nigatu, Advisor to FDRE – Minister, Ministry of Health – Ethiopia officiated the opening where she welcomed the  participants and highlighted the importance of advocacy for health digitalization as stipulated under IGAD Regional Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy.

Dr. Nigatu urged the IGAD Member States to put Digital Health as a driving tool for Health Sector Development citing that the Federal Ministry of Health recently finalized the restructuring and positioned digital health with high investment, resources, including human resources.

Dr. Nigatu added saying: “Let me also express to you my full support including IGAD Secretariat, towards the realization of the objective of domesticating the IGAD regional health data sharing and protection policy and the establishment of the regional disease monitoring and surveillance in promoting better cross border health in selected sites”.

Dr. Ruth on her own behalf also appreciated the IGAD Digitalization program by His Excellency Dr. Workneh  Gebeyehu and that of the IGAD Digital Health by Director Madam Fathia Alwan in promoting digital transformation across the IGAD Member States.

Speaking on behalf of the Madam Fathia Alwan, IGAD Director for Health and Social Development; Dr. Bashir Ahmed – Coordinator of the IGAD Health Digitalization Project commended the efforts of IGAD, the Member States and appreciated the partners’ support in the journey towards digital health transformation in the IGAD Region.

“Data collection, data storage, data protection and sharing are important to us and with the support of our partners the European Union and BMZ and implementing partner GIZ, we continue to pledge our support in the implementation of the Regional Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy “ Dr. Bashir added.

It is stated on the occasion, following the endorsement of the IGAD Regional Health Data Sharing and Protection policy, the IGAD Digital Health has made big efforts in advocacy on the data sharing and protection policy by disseminating the soft and printed- materials among the IGAD Member States, namely the Ministries of Health as well as cross border committee meetings.

Concurrently, the planned meeting will help complement to the national response to strengthen the health management information system as well as to the usage of data culture among the public.

At this meeting also, the Regional Policy Consultants – a Consortium consisting of IntelliSoft Consulting and HHK Consulting with experts spearheading the domestication of the IGAD Regional Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy Framework will present the Inception Report, a situational analysis per Member State and a proposed workplan. Also to be presented by the regional experts are the Terms of Reference for the Technical Working Group and Progress Report since they undertook this role in March 2023.

The meeting is being attended by senior management and experts from Health Management Information Systems (HMIS), the Infectious Disease Surveillance and Response (IDSR), Policy and Planning and IGAD National Policy Facilitators from Ministries of Health from the IGAD Member States.

The IGAD Digital Health Project is mandated to oversee the implementation of the IGAD Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy Framework, which was endorsed by the IGAD Ministers Council in March 2022. The project is financially supported by the European Union and BMZ (German Cooperation), coordinated by IGAD and implemented by GIZ.

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