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August 9, 2023 (ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia): The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)  in collaboration with the European Union (EU), Ministry for Economic and Development (BMZ) and German International Cooperation (GIZ) this morning in a high level ceremony handed over Information Technology (IT) equipment to the Ministry of Health of the Federal Government of Ethiopia as a support mechanism which to improve health data pipelines at cross-border areas and national level of Member States to strengthen, support disease surveillance and monitoring in the IGAD Member States.

On behalf of the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, the IGAD Head of Mission in Ethiopia, Commander Abebe Muluneh, handed over the Information Technology Equipment to Dr. Lia Tedesse, Minister for Federal Ministry of Health.

Commander Abebe highlighted that the Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu has given high attention to encourage the IGAD digitalization initiative in the Member States with the theme as ““Better networking to reach the hard-reach population, development and integration”

“I am sure that His Excellency, Dr. Workneh and Madam Fathia Alwan, the Director for Health and Social Development, will give all their full support to realize the object of Digital Health in terms Disease Monitoring and Surveillance and the implementation of Health Data Sharing and Protection Policy in selected cross border sites.”  Commander Abebe explained.

He further emphasized that currently, the IGAD Member States are in the process of developing the National Roadmap for the Health Data sharing and Protection Policy at the cross border and national levels as part of the IGAD regional disease surveillance and response initiative.

Dr. Lia Tedesse, the Minister of Health described the handover as a pivotal milestone in their journey towards digitalization, in particular, in relation to the implementation of the electronic Community Health Information System within cross-border region.

“The seeds we sow today through these advancements in Digital Health infrastructure will undoubtedly yield a healthier, more resilient digital health system for our nations.” Dr. Lia emphasized.

On his part, Dr. David Krivanek, the Chargé d’Affaires of the European Union / Acting Head of Delegation reaffirmed that the European Union is committed to supporting IGAD and its Member States in their fight against pandemics and in countering their socio-economic impacts.

“We believe that our action under the ‘Digital Solutions to strengthen disease surveillance and monitoring systems in the IGAD region’ continues to be important in strengthening digital capacities of IGAD Member States in regional disease surveillance and monitoring systems.” Dr. David Krivanek underlined.

He also expressed that the contribution of the European Union to this project of 7 million Euros (Est. 420 Milion Birr), a large part of the contribution in Ethiopia goes towards procurement of IT equipment, cross border committee initiatives, coordination, and training of health care workers.

“I would also like to express our appreciation to the BMZ (German Ministry for Development Coop) for co-financing this action as a Team Europe Initiative. And, we are glad to see that this project allowed for a close cooperation between IGAD and GIZ: together they undertook a baseline needs assessment to inform on the hardware needs in IGAD Member States.” He expressed.

Speaking on behalf of the Director of IGAD Health and Social Development Madam Fathia Alwan; Dr. Ahmed Bashir – Coordinator of IGAD Digital health announced that IGAD selected Ethiopia to hold the inaugural handover due to Ethiopia being the Center of Excellence for Digital Health among the IGAD Member States.

“IGAD appreciates the efforts and investments by the Federal Ministry of Health, in terms of strategy, standard tools system and hardware, including being training center for human resources.” Dr, Bashir added.

The handover is a fulfillment of a Call of Action by the Heads of State and Presidents of the IGAD countries in 2020, where the EU with the co-financing of BMZ set aside 60 million Euros to alleviate the health and socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the IGAD region.

The purchase of IT equipment across the IGAD Member States ranges from an assortment of items of laptops, desktop computers, tablets, UPSes, solar power packs, access points, printers/scanners, and their respective accessories, to mention but a few that are being delivered to the different cross border sites through the respective Ministries of Health offices within the IGAD Member States between August – September 2023.

The intervention aims at strengthening disease surveillance systems at various levels: port health units at the cross-border points, health facilities in the cross-border areas, sub-national health offices and the Ministries of Health offices. In particular, the hardware procured will improve data management practices (collection, collation, transmission, analysis, and sharing) increasing the efficiency of disease surveillance processes.

The other IGAD Member States will hold similar handover events in their specific countries when the different items are delivered.

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