CO-OPERATING partners have stopped funding electronic public health initiatives because the Zambia Information Communication and Technology Authority (ZICTA) is charging the Ministry of Health commercial rates, Ministry of Health permanent secretary Peter Mwaba told members of a Parliamentary Select Committee yesterday.

Dr Mwaba said the mobile health system, and SMS-based messaging system for Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) result delivery, was one ICT initiative which ZICTA was charging at a commercial rates, making it difficult to sustain.

He said this when he appeared before the Committee on Communication, Transport, Works and Supply.

Dr Mwaba said commercial rates were making it difficult to sustain the ICT programmes and co-operating partners who were meeting the costs had pulled out.

He told the committee that the ministry still lacked ICT infrastructure in some hospitals, clinics, district and provincial offices.

“Many health institutions do not have local area networks or internet connectivity let alone personnel to support ICT equipment,” Mr Mwaba said.

He said health institutions had limited human resource capacity in ICT.

Mr Mwaba said the ministry also lacked ICT experts to provide technical support at provincial, district and other health institution levels.

“The vision of the ministry in as far as Information Community Technology is concerned is to have a quality innovative e-health system that will effectively contribute to a healthy,” he said.

Dr Mwaba said the desire of the Ministry of Health was to ensure that there was interoperability between systems to ensure that all systems were speaking to each other.

“Once this interoperability is achieved, it will enhance suitability of ICT integration and will be factored into the implementation of future health initiatives,” he said.

Dr Mwaba however said the ministry had derived some benefits in the use of ICTs including the use of health for Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) and electronic result transmission, consequently reducing turn around time.

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