Published on 20/11/2023

National Digital Health Week

Digital health is increasingly seen as essential to facilitating access to healthcare services and improving the quality of care. In partnership with all stakeholders, the Transform Health Senegal coalition aims to support the State of Senegal in its process of digitizing healthcare.

Digital Health Week, celebrated from November 6 to 12, 2023, was an opportunity for the Transform Health Senegal coalition to amplify its actions by organizing a series of activities: a panel on the principles of health data governance, a day of exchange and sharing of experiences from the "my data, our health" campaign and a walking tour on the theme: on the march to digitalize the healthcare system.

These activities took place on November 8, 10, and 12, 2023 in Dakar, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Social Action through the CSSDOS, responsible for coordinating the process of digitizing the healthcare system in Senegal.

Member organizations of the Transform Health coalition, from the private sector as well as sectoral organizations such as the Ministry of Women and the Family through the Department of the Family and Vulnerable Couches, and the Association de Femmes Médecins du Sénégal, which recently joined Senegal's national coalition, also took part in the panel on the theme of "principles of health data governance".

Discussions on health data governance principles

The discussions enabled participants to learn about and understand the various initiatives and the government's approach to digitizing the healthcare system. But also the state of play and prospects for health data governance. Referring to the 2008 law on personal data protection, Mohamed Diop, in charge of legal affairs at the Commission de Protection des Données Personnelles (Personal Data Protection Commission), explained:

This law categorizes data under the term "sensitive data", which includes health data, and includes a clause allowing the collection of such data.

Mohamed Diop, in charge of legal affairs at CDP

Senegal recently adopted a national strategy for data governance. This strategy includes a major focus on the uses to which data can be put, as well as a number of strategic orientations.

However, when it comes to regulating infrastructure, hosting and the involvement of healthcare professionals, there's a gap. A gap that the law currently being passed will certainly fill.

We hope to pass the law soon

Siny Fall, a computer engineer with the CSSDOS, hopes to see the law adopted soon. She praised the collaboration between the CSSDOS and the CDP, as well as other departments of the Ministry of Health and Social Action, in drafting the law.

The aim is to make IT solutions for managing healthcare data legal, whether in the private or public sector. 

In the course of the discussions, numerous legal questions concerning the governance of healthcare data were raised: what nomenclature should be used? who has access to the data? who is the owner? etc...

In Mohamed Diop's opinion, however, only the European Union can provide answers to these questions. It would also provide a framework for digital health through health data governance based on security, trust, equity and quality.

Also in the context of this law, Mohamed Diop, in charge of Legal Affairs at the Commission de Protection des Données Personnelles, called for the establishment of a health data warehouse system, which would be available and shareable in the interests of public health. This essential system would enable the health insurance sector to harmonize initiatives with the Universal Health Coverage Agency.