If passed into law, the Bill could revolutionize healthcare delivery, protect patient data, and promote responsible use of technology in the medical field.
The journey towards the establishment of digital health services in the country took a step further after members of the National Assembly debated for the second time, the Digital Health Bill, 2023.
The proposed law, which seeks to establish a legal framework for the provision of digital health services and a comprehensive integrated digital health information system, was tabled in the House for the second reading.
If approved by the House and enacted into law by President William Ruto, the Bill will also provide mechanisms for data governance and protection of personal health information, service delivery through digital health interventions, e-waste disposal, and health tourism.
The proposed legislation focuses on the establishment of the Digital Health Agency, which is poised to become a central authority for overseeing and coordinating digital health initiatives across the nation.
With a dedicated agency in place, the Government aims to streamline and enhance the delivery of digital health services.
“The Digital Health Bill, 2023 also introduces provisions for e-health service delivery. With the rapid advancement of technology, digital health interventions are becoming increasingly relevant.
“This legislation paves the way for innovative healthcare solutions that can be accessed conveniently by citizens,” National Assembly leader of majority party Kimani Ichung’wa said during debate on the floor of the House.
The Bill is part of four draft Bills proposed to replace the NHIF Act. The other three Bills seeking to replace the existing NHIF Act also include the Social Health Insurance Bill 2023, Primary Healthcare Bill, 2023 and Facility Improvement Financing Bill, 2023.
Endebess MP and health committee chairman Robert Pukose told the House that one of the crucial components of the Bill was the proposals to safeguard health data.
Pukose said that the proposed legislation sets out guidelines and regulations to ensure the proper handling and protection of personal health information.
“In a digital era where data privacy is paramount, these provisions aim to instill public confidence in the healthcare system,” he said.
His sentiments were echoed by Gilgil MP Martha Wangari and James Nyikal of Seme.
“The Digital Health Bill, 2023, recognizing the importance of environmental responsibility, Part VII addresses e-waste management. In an era of electronic health records and digital medical devices, it is imperative to handle electronic waste efficiently,” Pukose added.
Furthermore, Part VIII of the Bill explores the potential of health tourism, an emerging sector that could contribute to the country’s economy. By tapping into healthcare tourism, the government aims to attract international visitors seeking medical treatment.
If passed into law, it has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery, protect patient data, and promote the responsible use of technology in the medical field.