Health Minister prioritises Digital Health

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The health sector is in the process of establishing a digital platform to harness the digital health service and addressing the skills gap.

Minister for Health and HIV/AIDS, Dr Tom Lino says that the health sector faces many challenges and one such issue is not having enough skilled health workers in the country to provide vital health care to the population.

When addressing the ‘Public Health Authority CEOs’ and Board’ forum in Port Moresby recently, Dr Tom highlighted the current number of registered doctors’ attached to the Department of Health working in PNG.

“We have 640 doctors, with a ratio of one doctor to 20,000 people”.

“And as you all know, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended ratio is 1:1000, and we cannot reach that gap within the intermediate term,” Dr Tom said.

He said it usually takes at least 10 years to adequately train a health worker to fill such a gap.

One way of addressing this is by creating a digital platform where the health sector can utilize to fill this gap through the use of ICT.

“In my term in office, I am trying to put in place some reforms, where we want to make sure that the mandate of health is clearly vested on the National Health Department as per what the Health Administration Act says”.

Dr Tom said, “One of the things NDoH wants to deliver on is digital health care services to our people, one example of which is creating clear referral pathways for patients through the use of ICT.

In order to achieve the desired outcome, the National Health ICT Policy 2022 approved by National Health Board is now with NEC for endorsement.

Mr Osborne Liko, Secretary for Health said the National ICT Policy 2022 plans to establish a comprehensive framework for leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance the efficiency, accessibility, and quality of healthcare services across PNG.

The policy’s goals aim to ensure ICT services contribute to improving and strengthening governance and management visibility in the health sector’s service delivery.

The policy also seeks to ensure ICT services in the health sector are well aligned with core business requirements and comply with the Digital Government Act 2022 and best practices.

To ensure a successful implementation of this policy having a transformative impact on the healthcare landscape, improving patients outcome, improving costs and improving better coordination among healthcare providers, NDoH has established governance and coordination teams to reach out to Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and relevant stakeholders to complement National Health ICT Policy.

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