In the small island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe, Alex Mkwamba serves as a UN Volunteer Epidemiologist with the UN Development Programme (UNDP). Hailing from Zimbabwe, he is using digital technologies to transform the healthcare system.
In close collaboration with the Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and International Labour Organization (ILO), Alex has made strides in improving the capacity and motivation of health workers to adopt digitalization in health data management.
Alex's key achievement is advancing the digitalization of patient data and creating comprehensive and accessible medical histories. This progress ensures inclusion, particularly of vulnerable populations.
By establishing a linkage between data from social protection services and the health information department (DHIS2), Alex was able to accelerate the implementation of capturing individual patient data. This linkage allows for matching records and tracking access to basic health services for vulnerable populations. Ultimately, this contributes to addressing multi-dimensional poverty, promoting universal health coverage, reducing inequalities and leaving no one behind.
Alex has co-facilitated numerous trainings on the District Health Information System (version 2), a digital health information platform. Moreover, by promoting an integrated approach to work, he has successfully brought together departments within the Ministry of Health for joint field support and supervision missions.
I was really impressed with Alex's understanding and patience when working with staff of the São Tomé and Príncipe Ministry of Health. He introduced a new module for COVID-19 contact tracing in the District Health Information System, fully supported by UNDP, as the main actor. --Luis Fernando Jimenez Abello, consultant in the Health & Social Unit of UNDP, São Tomé and Príncipe
Alex reports that one of his most rewarding experiences has been his involvement in the development of the new strategic plan for health of São Tomé and Príncipe. This will guide the country's healthcare sector from 2023 onwards for the next five years. As a member of the health information pillar, Alex provided essential inputs in developing the content and priorities for the health information system.
This experience has allowed me to fulfill my commitment to utilizing my graduate-level education for the global good. With the experience I have gained through volunteering, I plan to inspire others to volunteer and continue making a difference in the world. --Alex Mkwamba, UN Volunteer Epidemiologist, serving with UNDP, São Tomé and Príncipe
Currently, 15 UN Volunteers are serving in São Tomé and Príncipe, based with UNICEF, UNDP, WHO, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and UN Population Fund (UNFPA). These dedicated individuals, like Alex, are working towards sustainable development, and improving the lives of people in the communities they serve.