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Health Ministry Dispatches Digital Kits for Cross-Border Disease Surveillance :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Health Ministry Dispatches Digital Kits for Cross-Border Disease Surveillance

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, the Minister for Health, emphasized that the equipment will address the inadequacies in ICT tools needed by frontline health workers to conduct surveillance and share cross-border health data, thereby reducing the public's vulnerability to disease transmission.
Uganda Revenue Authority - URA and Immigration officials recieve assortment of IT equipment at the Port Health of Malaba border point of entry

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The Health Ministry has dispatched a range of digital information technology (IT) equipment to strengthen the government's disease surveillance and collaborative efforts against health crises at international cross-border points. 

The equipment comprises 34 desktop computers, nine laptops, four tablets, 34 uninterrupted power supplies, 30 extensions, and access points shared by cross-border sites such as Busia, Malaba, Elegu, Bibia, Masafu Hospital, and Atiak Health Centre IV in Amuru District.  

Dr. Tom Aliti, the Commissioner of Health Services in the Ministry, told URN on Monday that the equipment has been dispatched to Kenya-Uganda points of entry at Busia and Tororo, with further deliveries scheduled for Elegu, at the Uganda-South Sudan cross-border this week. 

The assorted IT equipment, valued at Euros 62,000 (approximately 262.4 million Shillings), was donated to the Ministry by the European Union (EU) in partnership with the German government under the "EU Digital Solutions to Strengthen Disease Surveillance and Monitoring Systems for COVID-19" project. 

This project is being implemented by GIZ, a German development agency, and coordinated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), an eight-country trade bloc comprising Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.

Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng Ocero, the Minister for Health, emphasized that the equipment will address the inadequacies in ICT tools needed by frontline health workers to conduct surveillance and share cross-border health data, thereby reducing the public's vulnerability to disease transmission.

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According to James Macbeth Forbes, the GIZ Uganda Country Director, the procured hardware aims to improve government data management practices not only for the COVID-19 pandemic but also for disease surveillance in general, making the process more efficient and streamlined.

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Similarly, Joselyn Bigirwa, the IGAD's Head of Mission to Uganda, reiterated the bloc's commitment to a healthier future by strengthening disease surveillance and empowering health systems through technology to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the aspirations of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063.  

The partners emphasized the importance of united collaboration in safeguarding the health of over 230 million people in the IGAD region by providing equipment to strengthen the health information system and leveraging digital health to optimize health service delivery.

In March 2020, the Heads of State of IGAD countries called for collective efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and its outbreak in the region, requiring a total funding of Euro 8.4 million (approximately 35.587 billion Shillings). 

The initiative also aims to implement a regional, transnational, and real-time monitoring and analysis system (SORMAS) in the IGAD region to facilitate the flow of health information and data between Member States for the containment and control of pandemics and prevention of propagation across borders.  

Apart from COVID-19, the Ugandan government has successfully managed and contained the widespread transmission of other pandemics such as Ebola and Marburg viruses. According to statistics from the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization, Uganda recorded 3,626 coronavirus deaths since the epidemic began in 2020. 

Additionally, the country experienced six Ebola outbreaks, resulting in 55 deaths out of 142 confirmed cases before the outbreak was declared over in January 2013. Furthermore, in 2017, Uganda reported a total of 14 cases of Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), including seven deaths.