[Rwanda] Giving citizens digital access to their health data is a first step toward Person-Centered Health
The Governments of Rwanda and Senegal began issuing vaccination certificates for COVID-19 using the SMART Health Card standard. SMART Health Cards are secure, digitally-verifiable QR codes containing an individual’s health information that can be carried on paper or smartphone apps and sent via email.
Initially developed for COVID-19 vaccination records and lab results and adopted by countries including the United States, Canada, and Japan, the SMART Health Card standard is now being extended to provide individuals with additional health data such as routine immunization records, lab results, health insurance information, and prescriptions.
This person-centred model is a simpler, lower-cost alternative to traditional institution-to-institution health data exchange models. It helps citizens have digital access to their health data, carry it with them, and use it to inform the health care services they receive.
Speaking at the launch event held in Kigali, Rwanda, the Minister of Health for Rwanda, Dr. Daniel Ngamije, stated that Rwanda would leverage the innovation to its fullest in line with the country’s universal health coverage objectives. “This person-centered model of health information exchange is now possible thanks to the advancement and penetration of mobile technology and connectivity,” he said.
The Coordinator of the Health Map and Digital Health at the Ministry of Health Senegal, Dr.Ibrahima Khaliloulah DIA, added, “Good health requires good data. Beginning with the dissemination of SMART Health Cards for COVID-19 vaccinations, Senegal is working to empower citizens with access to their health records using open standards.”
Digital health innovation holds great potential to expand access, increase quality, and reduce the cost of health services across the continent. “Today marks a significant milestone in African public health as the Mastercard Foundation co-launches the Smart Health Card. This will enable Africans to access, manage, and share their health care data digitally, resulting in a stronger and more efficient health care system in Africa,” said Papa Salif Sow, the Head of Health Initiatives, Mastercard Foundation.
“Every individual should be empowered to access their health information and use it to inform the health services they receive,” said Paul Meyer, President of The Commons Project. “We are working to support health organizations across Africa to provide their patients with access to their health data using open standards, and to use data from their patients to inform the care and services they provide.”
In conjunction with the SMART Health Card launch in Rwanda and Senegal, officials from the Governments of Rwanda and Senegal, the East African Community, Africa CDC, Smart Africa, the Tony Blair Institute, The Commons Project, and the Mastercard Foundation are meeting in Kigali to plan the implementation of the ‘Health My Way’ initiative to support the scale-up of this person-centered digital health model across Africa.