Gabon’s plan to leverage information and communications technology (ICT) to promote the country’s socioeconomic development in the health sector has received World Bank support with the approval of an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) loan of $56 million equivalent.
The e-Gabon project will target patients of the national health system and health workers, as well as private sector actors and entrepreneurs, with a specific focus on women and youth, seeking to conduct business in the digital economy. Overall, the country’s population will have access to quality and affordable health services as well as eHealth, and other useful applications tailored for local needs.
“This project will accelerate the development of eHealth, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as the use of digital services to promote the wellbeing of individuals in both the public and private sectors,” says Sylvie Dossou, World Bank Country Manager for Gabon.
The project will be implemented with the Ministry of Health, the ANINF (Agence Nationale des Infrastructures Numériques et des Fréquences), and the CNAMGS (Caisse Nationale d’Assurance Maladie et de Garantie Sociale). It aims to develop and roll out a new National Health Information System (NHIS), harnessing ICT to support the needs of both clinical staff and health system managers. It is also expected to improve accountability and work productivity for health professionals, both in terms of reducing the administrative burden for health care workers, and reducing administrative and medical errors. Finally, it will significantly change the way in which health workers deliver care, especially those in rural areas where health care providers will have easier access to relevant specialists in urban areas, who would be available for consultation if needed.
“Through e-Gabon the epidemiological surveillance mechanism will be strengthened by using Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs) to compile the data required and to disseminate, on an ongoing basis, early warning and response information,” explains Michel Rogy, World Bank ICT Policy Advisor.
eGabon is the first project to implement the recommendations of the 2016 World Bank’s World Development Report on Digital Dividends which emphasizes that the implementation of human resources information systems, logistics management information systems, clinical decision support tools, digital payments, financial management information systems, and Short Message Service (SMS) reminder systems can address a variety of health system problems. Effective country ownership, good governance, and strong institutional and human capacity are core to such eHealth planning and implementation.