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In a ceremony attended by officials from the Ministry of Health Development and the Taiwan Representative Office in Somaliland, the governments of Somaliland and Taiwan have unveiled the implementation of the Health Information Management Efficiency Enhancement Project (Digital Health). The project which will be piloted in a limited number of health care facilities will help digitize patient and hospital management is a collaborative effort between Somaliland’s Ministry of Health Development, Taiwan ICDF, and Kaohsiung Medical University Chung-Ho Memorial Hospital.

This is one of many projects that Taiwan is working on with Somaliland since the establishment of the two countries’ bilateral ties and the second healthcare-related project. Previously, Taiwan and Somaliland have initiated the Maternal and Infant Health Care Improvement Project.

WEAPONS cannot increase human welfare, but HEALTH does

Ambassador Allen Lou

“Taiwan always has the will and ability to contribute to the international society. It is not acceptable that Taiwan has been politicalized not to join WHA and WHO activities to contribute more in the previous years. Taiwan believes that “WEAPONS cannot increase human welfare, but HEALTH does”. Taiwan will continue to safeguard the universal health values and to honor our commitments on health cooperation to benefit the people.” said Ambassador Allen Lou, Taiwan’s Representative in Somaliland.

The Deputy Minister of Health Development, Mr. Liban Yusuf Osman, who also spoke at the signing ceremony, said “The Somaliland government is committed to improving the national medical level. Under this project, bilateral health cooperation will be more comprehensive and productive”.

Computerized patient and hospital management systems have been standard in many developed countries and are attributed to the drastic reduction in medical mistakes and the case of pandemics such as COVID-19 tracing and tracking infections. Although Somaliland has higher cellular and internet penetration compared to similarly underdeveloped countries, Somaliland’s government has been slow to adopt technology to serve its citizens.

Taiwan, a technology powerhouse, is currently collaborating with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Technology on the implementation of e-government, secure data exchange between government entities, and a technology innovation hub. It’s unclear if the Ministry of Telecommunication and Technology will have a role in helping implement the health informatics project or have a future role such as ensuring the system is secure from cyber threats.

The lack of proper records to tally medical mistakes that occur in both public and private hospitals make it impossible to quantify the number of medical mistakes in Somaliland but there have been very public incidents where patients have been transfused with the wrong blood type or expired for lack of oxygen in Hargeisa Group Hospital. It is unclear if the sprawling Hargeisa Group Hospital is a candidate to pilot the digital health management system.

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