Residents of Ethiopia will be among the first in Africa to be able to acquire a dedicated contactless health card that stores their digitised medical data — including their Covid-19 vaccination records — and enables them to make that data available to healthcare professionals without needing an internet connection to access online databases.
The Ethiopian Wellness Pass is “an interoperable and offline portable healthcare credential” that allows residents to carry their medical records with them. It is being introduced by the country’s Ministry of Health in order to address challenges around the accessibility and authentication of medical data that arise in many low- and middle-income countries with traditional paper-based systems, the partners behind the solution explain.
“Lack of healthcare data portability has a definite impact on the levels of service utilisation and health outcomes among people in different geographical areas and socio-economic groups,” Dr Lia Tadesse of Ethiopia’s Ministry of Health says.
“Therefore, it is very important to solve this great challenge, and it will take a collective response by public and private sectors to reach the necessary scale, and this is why we are excited about this new partnership, one that is designed to enable us to provide the best possible care to our citizens, regardless of where they are.”
The Wellness Pass is being rolled out by the Ethiopian Ministry of Health in partnership with Mastercard, the vaccine alliance Gavi and health consultancy JSI as part of a broader initiative to “enable digitization of health records in the form of contactless cards” in “eligible countries”.
“The partnership aims to implement the Wellness Pass technology through several phases,” the partners add.
“Phase one of the implementation will be focused on Covid-19 vaccination tracking and will be deployed at health facilities throughout the country, including both urban and rural locations, over a 15-month period.
“Phase two plans to scale the use of [the] Wellness Pass across multiple healthcare programs, to be determined in partnership with the Ministry of Health.”