ICT in Health Seminar
Presentation by Elisha Wasukira and Francis Somerwell
On the 13th August 2003, the monthly I-Network Seminar that took place at Hotel
Africana was represented by a number health professionals and I-Network members
totaling to 56 people. These included; doctors, midwives, NGOs promoting health, IT
specialists in Hospitals and a number of Non- governmental organizations dealing in
health services. The seminar begun at 9:00am with the theme “ICT in Health.”
Mr. Isaac Kasana said in his opening remarks that this seminar was going to be the first
of it’s kind and that this time the system had been changed to quarterly themes. The ICTs
are very vital in all sectors but most important of all Health should be addressed to ensure
proper welfare of the people. He then invited Hon. Johnson Nkuuhe who gave a brief
about ICT in Health.
Hon. Johnson Nkuuhe noted that the initiative undertaken by the I-Network on Health
would provide technical solutions to social problems especially those related to health.
He further pointed out that the International Institute for Communication and
Development supports I-Network and health is one of their themes of interest among
environment, governance, agricultural livelihoods and education.
He encouraged people from the health sector to start networking and improve the welfare
of the country at large saying that the purpose of I-Network’s is to ensure knowledge
1st Presentation: Introduction of ICT in Health as a focal theme for August to
By Eng. Elisha Wasukira
Eng. Elisha Wasukira begun by giving the audience a brief background of I-Network and
the theme “ICT in Health.”
I-Network Uganda Plans, Priorities for 2003/2004, which will involve a more strategic,
focused and cohesive approach to support the impact of ICT in specific development
processes. He noted that health is very vital to society hence the need to identify specific
players in this field.
I-Network has transformed to a thematic system from just topics that were normally
democratically chosen. It will focus on a particular theme for each quarter and make sure
that they identify how best the respective sectors will be improved using ICTs.
The Health Sector is the very first theme that has been chosen to ensure proper health
I-Network further intends to expand upcountry, also improve the website content and
expand the newsletter.
He noted that the IICD has started a Round Table Process on ICTs in continuing medical
education and therefore I-Network can use this opportunity come up with solutions and
strategies for the betterment of the health sector. Members were encouraged to come up
with suitable topics that will address problems in health since it is a very wide sector,
after which meetings will be held with key players in the medical school and the Ministry
of health to organize capacity building projects.
At the end of the six months, an understanding of what is happening in ICT, needs and
opportunities of application in the health sector and strategies and plans for moving
forward as a network advocating will be obtained.
Elisha encouraged members to come up with stories related to ICT in health and further
suggested that there would be a competition and an award will be given to the best story
Lastly, he pointed out topics of interest and these were; current use of ICT in health,
Telemedicine, continuing medical education, public health education and promotion,
health care information management, ICT capacity development in the health sector,
health insurance and epidemic and disaster preparedness and response
2nd Presentation: Current use of ICTs in Health in Uganda; an Example of
Mr. Francis Somerwell
An example of a company that uses ICTs to the health sector was cited and this is
Microcare ltd. Francis Somerwell from Mocrocare Ltd. Gave a brief background of
microcare saying that it is a company that operates as a neutral professional intermediary
between client groups and health service providers. It is independent of any MFI,
employer or health service provider.
The company’s main aim is to enable the economically active poor to be healthy through
the provision of effective health plans, managed health care, preventive measures, health
education and medication between health providers and beneficiaries for best quality
The company evolved from DFID funded community health financing study project
exploring alternative mechanism of health financing and the core team involved in this
programmer is the doctor, the computer programmer, the health scheme manager and the
accountant. Clients and health service providers know the programme as the Multi-
Service provider that protects interests of clients, ethics confidentiality, ensures control of
abuse of the system.
It further assists clients to access health care and many more health related problems like,
improving client loyalty and retention.
Microcare contracts with hospitals and clinics and designs and manages schemes and the
main issues addressed are HIV/AIDS and dependent children e.g. orphans. The services
available in the participating hospitals are; casualty / out patient services, in-patient
services, consultation with consultants recognized by recognized by registered hospital,
gynecology, x-ray services, ultrasound, electrocardiogram and laboratory and maternity
cover including delivery in hospital and the caesarian section.
However the organization faces challenges when carrying out their operations and these
challenges are; clients have great difficulty collecting up enough money to pay for an
adequate premium, which has resulted in a very bad labour intensive market, slow uptake
and poor client retention.
Lastly, he said the organization has progressed rapidly over the past years and it heads the
health micro-care implementation. It has further developed a strong core expertise in
identity control and health scheme database management systems collecting high quality
data on quality of health service delivery and costs.
He then thanked the European Union, the Government of Uganda SUFFICE Programme,
and the Australian Government Regional Bureau for their continuing support.
Questions, Comments and Answers
Namusisi Mary, a midwife from the Uganda Midwives Association said it would be nice
to liaise with Francis so they could utilize ICTs more using the Microcare Health
Management System. There 600 midwives and out of these only 8 have been trained in
ICTs. She further suggested that they would like to have computers at their personal
Nabakka Sylvia from the Uganda Blood Transfusion Service said the blood bank uses
computers to enter data about the blood groups, HIV/AIDS rates and other diseases.
Namara Livingstone from the Uganda Community Health Unit Financing Association
(UCHUFA) covers Masaka, Bushenyi, Rukungiri, Kabaale and Kisoro and has got
around 40,000 members. He commented that they have got a challenge of how to get
these 40,000 people to network. They plan to organize training on ICTs for the people to
Andrew Mulubya from the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative said they generate data
using field stations to enter the data into the computers. He wondered how long it would
take to develop databases.
He also noted that electronic mail is very unstable in Uganda and wonders which one is
best suitable for networking.
Qn.1 What programmes have you used to sustain the organization and sustainability of
Qn. 2 how have you controlled the duplication of cards and what challenges have you
Ans. it is very difficult to duplicate the card and therefore no one has duplicated it before.
3rd Presentation: Round Table Country Programme By Elisha Wasukira
IICD is an organization that was set up by the Dutch government to address ICTs in
developing countries. Serving as a catalyst to various sectors, the Round table process
covers areas like;
1. Education, with its first initiative at Kyambogo University.
2. Local Governments and one of the examples is District net in Kayunga District
3. Ministry of Trade Tourism and Industry using e-commerce
4. Vocational Training and Education
5. ICT in continuing medical education, a term used to continually up grade medical
workers and how they can up date their information skills and abilities.
The initiative taken by I-Network can be used as an opportunity to assist in the process of
continuing medical education.
He said that they are in the process forming a steering committee for situational analysis
to find out what is happening in ICTs in Health. They will identify participants in the
ultimate events like a round table workshop where ICT projects will be identified.
They will further identify gaps in the knowledge and awareness an upcountry and clinic
keen to participate. There after, a reference report `which will be a collaborative effort
between I-Network and the country programme will be developed.
The round table will be a three-day event where IICD and Cordaid will collaborate
together to bring out the projects. Cordaid are the funders and IICD has got the
experienced facilitators where members are incited to brainstorm prioritized project
A member suggested that the continuing medical education should be expanded to health
in general to cater for other aspects of health.
Dr. Bukenya, the Director of Rubaga Hospital informed members that it is important that
each institution to carry out continuing medical education in form of workshop journals.
However they don’t put much emphasis on medical and health but they have to show at
least a minimum of 50 hrs training. He further noted that the more knowledgeable one is,
the better practitioner they are.
David Ndaula from International Medical Centre informed the audience that they do have
the a system where they train the Doctors on how to use the computers, providing health
to health education, how to update the website and how to produce all sorts of journals.
However the challenge is that the software is very expensive and it is not very easy for
hospitals to acquire the technology.
Hon. Johnson Nkuuhe advised that they should endeavour to look for solutions and this
can be done through networking. He further encouraged the use of local consultancy,
local development of software that may not be perfect but when it can apply to the
problems that they face. Local software capacity development is very important due to
the fact that is it not as expensive as the other software acquired abroad. Members were
further encouraged to build capacity in order for them to get solutions to their problems.
The health education targets every body while continuing education targets only health
workers and therefore they should devise a means of including every one. He also
commented that the quality of information and content of ICTs could have a positive
impact on the health sector.
Francis Somerwell commented that it is true the software is very expensive however
sharing the problems through advocacy and lobbying can be a solution. He further said it
is wise to invest in technology for drugs rather than controlling technology. Many
programmes can do an ICT development at a minimum cost. One more subject called
marketing can be added on the subjects of young programmers. He also warned that if
hospitals do not invest in IT they would incur more costs.
A Journalist from the New Vision expressed interest in the impact of information
undertaking; he also noted that medical personnel are very reluctant to use IT. He also
advised I-Network to liaise with Uganda Communications Commission to further the
growth of I-Network.
Dr. Bukenya insisted that the medical personnel are now very eager to learn and access
the Internet; unfortunately not everyone has access to a computer and no access to the
Internet. He further suggested that there should be a cheaper training, which would make
their work easier.
Elisha thanked members for having spared their time and said that more seminars are
bound to take place and people will get the opportunity to point out their interest before
the end of the seminar.