Ethiopia Launches Digital Health Innovation and Learning Center

August 6th, 2020 | News


The Ethiopian Ministry of Health (MOH) launched the Digital Health Innovation and Learning Center (DHILC), the first of its kind, in Addis Ababa on August 6, 2020.The DHILC will be a place where health professionals can design and validate digital health tools, synthesize and promote best practices, and scale-up innovations. The DHILC was built by the MOH in collaboration with Saint Peter’s Specialized Hospital and JSI Research & Training Institute, Inc. through the Ethiopia Data Use Partnership (DUP), with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Ethiopia’s Minister of Health Dr. Lia Tadesse gave the opening remarks at the inauguration ceremony, saying “It is expected that the center will play a tremendous role, particularly in developing and implementing data and demand-driven health systems in the health sector. It will support the use of digital technology to improve our health service delivery, and remain a place where sustainable implementation and support capacities are built to help ensure government ownership of the systems.”

Dr. Lia Tadesse giving opening remarks

Dr. Tadesse also commented that the center will help youth participate in the health sector and advance job-creation in other sectors through its capacity-building training.

The center is a resource for both MOH staff and external health partners and will offer accredited certificate-level training. DHILC will immediately feature a software development and testing environment for eCHIS and HRIS and will serve as a clearinghouse for new digital health tools that will be implemented in the health system.

The DHILC is also a place where practitioners can seek and receive technical and professional support to overcome health system implementation challenges. Based on the experiences of other countries, the center is expected to solve about 85% of users’ minor health information system-related problems.

Dr. Solomon Zewdu, deputy director Africa – health and nutrition at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is extremely pleased to have contributed to the realization of Ethiopia’s Digital Health Innovation and Learning Center. It is our belief that this center plays a crucial role in transforming health information systems and the culture of data-driven decision making in Ethiopia’s health sector. We also believe that it will serve as an incubation center with the potential to provide technical support for other sub-Saharan African countries to build and implement sustainable digital health solutions in the spirit of south-to-south collaboration.”

Presenting computers at the press conference.

The DHILC has five important functional sections:

1. Data Use Innovation Concept room for collaborative problem-solving and design.

2. eHealth application development and testing room for collaborative eHealth application design, development, and testing.

3. Capacity-building center with two training rooms to hold various digital health applications and data use-capacity-building sessions, including a DHIS2 academy.

4. Resource center where staff and researchers can access electronic scientific publications and other gray literature about Ethiopian health information systems.

5. eHealth support call center to provide remote support to users on eHealth applications and consultations on data quality and use issues.

Ethiopia introduced its first Health Transformation Strategic Plan in 2015 to build on the significant gains in improving its population’s health outcomes.  A cornerstone of the plan is the realization of innovation in data-driven health care by building and implementing interoperable health information systems that are owned and led by the government.

JSI’s Data Use Partnership aims to improve the collection and use of high-quality routine information in the health sector, leading to better quality, efficiency, and availability of primary health and nutrition services at all levels of the health system.

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