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MPs urged to pass privacy law to boost eHealth

Electronic Health (eHealth) innovators have asked Parliament to swiftly pass the Data Protection and Privacy Bill, 2015 to enable build public trust and confidence in the system.

Meeting at an eHealth forum at Imperial Royale hotel, experts argued that many people are reluctant to embrace eHealth due to fears that they are not legally protected.

They noted that without a privacy and data protection law, patients would not be sure if there would be redress if their private information was leaked.

Lillian Nalwoga, a program officer at the ICT Policy Center for Eastern and Northern Africa (CIPESA), observed that she was frustrated by the slow pace at which parliament was handling the bill.

Lillian Nalwoga

“When looking at improving accessibility and user confidence, this is one the laws that needs to be passed because many people are afraid of sharing sensitive health information,” she said. “The lack of a law on data protection threatens many people not to share information.”

The Data Protection and Privacy bill is aimed at pro­tecting the pri­vacy of in­di­vid­uals by reg­u­lat­ing the col­lec­tion and pro­cess­ing of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion. It also aims at pro­viding rights of the per­sons whose data is col­lected and the oblig­a­tions of data col­lec­tors, and to reg­u­late the use or dis­clo­sure of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines eHealth as the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) for health. Under eHealth, clients’ data can be easily shared among health experts for easy monitoring and sensitization, among others.

Nalwanga further observed that apart from funding, the biggest challenge innovators faced was that not many people know how to use eHealth. She noted that there was need for government to carry out media and digital literacy for citizens to start using the applications effectively.

Joshua Akandwanaho, the applications solutions architect at National Information Technology Authority – Uganda (NITA-U), revealed that access to eHealth stands at 70 per cent in the country. This has increased access and availability to information and helped raise awareness.

He observed that although private eHealth is facing a challenge of accessibility, government, on the other hand, is doing well as all regional hospitals have embraced the technology.

Currently, the ministry of Health has a number of eHealth portals including the District Health Information System 2 (DHIS2), Health Management Information System (HMIS) and the Medical Records System (MRS).

“We are setting up the national ICT hub that is going to be established at UICT and will provide free space so that innovators can come and innovate. We have plans to connect all the hubs on a single hub so that they access affordable internet that government is planning to introduce,” said Akandwanaho at the forum organized by UNFPA, Health ministry and Unicef.

Apart from passing the Data Protection and Privacy bill, Akandwanaho urged government to introduce free eHealth services to increase accessibility and awareness.

abumay1988@gmail.com

Comments

0 #1 WADADA rogers 2017-12-14 17:27
I dont think this is one of those laws that our parliament would be interested in passing, it may stay on the shelf for ever
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0 #2 rubangakene 2017-12-15 22:26
ICT is where the eating is! These guys are always discussing 'possibilities' in plush hotels when they haven't actually addressed the fundamentals; educating the masses in preventative health, disseminating information through accessible media such ass radio and TV/Films.

I remember in the old days, documentary mobile film trucks used to come from Nairobi and traverse the country educating people on basic health and hygiene, etc.

They also showed westerns/cowboy movies to entice people to attend.

Now how would we learn what these people are locked down in some plush hotels discussing about our health while eating 'a la carte' food washed down with fine South African wines?

Let's go back to basics and send out the foot soldiers in the villages to effect these vital programmes. Latrines, latrines, latrines and more latrines and running water; we are blessed with rivers and lakes for heavens' sake!
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