Events (34)

"We need new energy to change the world,” said Maud Olofsson, former Swedish Deputy Prime Minister. She was opening the fifth STIAS-Wallenberg Roundtable in Stellenbosch, South Africa. She was talking about the energy of innovation and the people driving it. She emphasised how mHealth experts should help politicians to understand these rapidly changing technologies and work with them how to secure the benefits and opportunities for health systems strengthening. 

The roundtables are an initiative of the Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation. They have been run every year since 2013. Delegates are from South Africa, Sweden and the broader international community, invited to engage in dialogue and debate to explore solutions to global challenges.

The February 2017 Roundtable focused on image-based mobile health. Over 60 participants attended from 16 countries. The event provided an opportunity for cross-sectoral and cross-disciplinary discussions and networking, says an article in africahealthnews.

A tangible output of the roundtable is a roadmap to be published in a special issue of Global Health Action devoted to mHealth. eHNA will share it once it's available.

The roadmap emerged from discussions on five key questions about the implementation, expansion and up-scaling of image-based mHealth in resource-constrained settings:

  1. How should the most important barriers to the implementation of image-based mHealth in the clinical setting be overcome?
  2. How can frontline healthcare workers adopt image-based mHealth in their practice?
  3. Which key strategies are needed to overcome organisational challenges to implementing image-based mHealth?
  4. Which are key strategies to overcome technical challenges in implementing image-based mHealth within the health sector?
  5. For each stakeholder groups represented, what are the most important priorities to build and sustain mHealth leadership?

Emphasis on finding solutions and crafting a tangible roadmap provides a constructive model for this type of sector engagement. African eHealth experts included African Centre for eHealth Excellence’s (Acfee) Dr Sean Broomhead (South Africa), Prof Peter Nyasulu (South Africa and Malawi), Dr Ousmane Ly (Mali) and Dr Eddie Mukooyo (Uganda). They will take lessons from the roundtable experience into the Acfee stakeholder events planned for Southern Africa and East Africa towards the end of 2017.

Helping end users make better decisions and provide better care was critical a focus. Discussions included how best to deal with barriers such as regulatory aspects, costs, Internet accessibility, airtime, power shortages, lack of training, use of personal phones and safety issues around phones, data accuracy and security - a long list - so that users are able to embrace mobile health.

Delegates included nurses and doctors sharing practical experiences using mHealth in clinical settings, overcoming implementation challenges, and leading change. Their stories fuel optimism for what is possible. We look forward to reading the roadmap and to sharing it with eHNA readers.

Image courtesy of STIAS

AeHIN’s five-day conference starts today in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. Its the fifth general meeting and focuses on Achieving the SDG's with ICT.

In 2007, the foundations of the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) were laid. Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) set up the PAN Asian Collaboration for Evidence-based eHealth Adoption and Application (PANACeA). It brought together 16 researchers from ten Asian countries to learn about eHealth and eHealth research. In parallel, eight multi-national research projects were implemented. Its Advisory and Monitoring Team (AMT) mentored the project teams dealing with a wide range of eHealth themes, including evaluating effectiveness of technologies and health informatics to manage health information in hospitals and communities and using telehealth to provide patient care at a distance.

AeHIN became the vehicle for these endeavours in the region. Its aim is to promote better ICT use to achieve better health through peer-to-peer assistance, knowledge sharing and learning through a regional approach for greater country-level impacts across South and Southeast Asia. Four strategic areas underpin its concept that better health can be achieved by strengthening evidence-based policies and health systems with better quality and timely Health Information Systems (HIS), Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS) and eHealth enables better information flow to support the delivery of quality and equitable healthcare and management of health systems. The four goals are:

  1. Enhance leadership, sustainable governance and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)
  2. Effective networking to increase peer assistance, knowledge exchange and sharing
  3. Promote standards and interoperability (IOp) in and across countries
  4. Build capacity for eHealth, HIS and CRVS in the countries and in the region.

These fit Africa’s eHealth initiatives. Partners for the event include Ministry of Health and Sports, the Government of the Union of the Republic of Myanmar, the WHO, the Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The Conference objectives include:

  1. Sharing, learning, and preparing to implement digital health capacity building strategies standardized processes, tools and techniques, and ready-to-use IT solutions towards achieving UHC and SDG.
  2. Sharing current state-of-the-art digital health in Asia Pacific region for example interoperability architecture (OpenHIE) implementation, Regional Interoperability lab activities
  3. Motivate stakeholders to invest in digital health to strengthening health systems

Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) are high priorities for Africa’s health systems too. Two of Acfee’s directors, Dr Sean Broomhead and Dr Ousmane Ly are at the event. They’ll be sharing Acfee’s eHealth initiatives and bringing lessons back for Africa.

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the top ten nominees for its landmark programme, the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). Now celebrating its fifth year under the theme Made in Africa, IPA offers a grand share prize of $150 000 to spur growth and prosperity in Africa through home-grown solutions, an article in IT-Online says.

The IPA has seen considerable growth in applications and increasing interest from both innovators and innovation enablers over the years. IPA 2016 attracted a record of over 3,600 innovators and received 985 successful submissions from 46 African countries. African ingenuity this year showcases new breakthroughs in public health, including malaria, HIV/AIDS and cancer, smart solutions for farmers and dynamic energy initiatives. 

AIF will host the IPA 2016: Made in Africa awards ceremony on 22 and 23 June 2016 in Gaborone, Botswana. Collaborating partners include the Ministry of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST), and the Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH). 

The healthcare solutions in the top 10 IPA 2016 nominees include:

Urine Test for Malaria (UMT)

Dr Eddy Agbo from Nigeria developed the UMT, a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes. Africa has the highest number of malaria cases worldwide. The inability to quickly diagnose and commence malaria treatment can lead to various complications including kidney failure, build-up of lung fluid, aplastic anaemia and even death. UMT uses a dip-stick to get accurate results within half an hour. The technology detects malaria parasite proteins in urine of patients with fever due to malaria. UMT’is simple and affordable, and a potential game changer in managing malaria across Africa. 

Api-Palu

Valentin Agon from Benin also developed a solution to curb the spread of malaria. Api-Palu is an anti-malaria drug treatment developed out of natural plant extract. It is significantly cheaper than available anti-malarial drugs, and has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria. According to the WHO, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to 88% of malaria cases and 90% of malaria deaths reported globally with some African governments spending up to 40% of their public health budgets on malaria treatment. Api-Palu manifests as a fast rate of malaria parasite clearance from the blood following short term treatment, with relatively lower doses. It is available in tablets, capsules or syrup. The drug has been approved in Benin, Burkina Faso, Tchad, and Central Africa Republic because of its therapeutic and non-toxic effects.

Exatype

Dr Imogen Wright, South Africa, solution addresses a different healthcare issue facing many African countries, HIV/AIDS. Exatype’s a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to Antiretroviral Drugs (ARV) drug treatment. According to WHO, 71% of people living with HIV/AIDS reside in Africa. 

A growing number of people on ARVs are resistant to drug regimens, leading to treatment failure, further exacerbating the continent’s HIV/AIDS burden. Exatype processes the highly complex data produced by the advanced next generation of DNA sequencing of HIV DNA in patients’ blood. A simple report detects drugs resistant to patients, then highlights the need to avoid these to ensure successful treatment. Exatype has the potential to contribute towards effectively managing HIV/AIDS in Africa, and also holds promise in helping detect drug resistance for other disease burdens such as Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria.

Aceso

Dr Kit Vaughan, also from South Africa, created an imaging technology, capable of performing full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound at the same time, dramatically improving breast cancer detection. Annually, there are more than half a million cancer deaths in Africa and these numbers are expected to double in the next three decades. If diagnosed early enough, the chances of treating the cancer successfully increases dramatically. However, because 40% of women have dense tissue, their cancers cannot be seen on X-ray. Furthermore, a false negative finding can have devastating consequences. Aceso is a single device that can acquire dual-modality images, full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound at the same time. This world first system’s protected by international patents and has been successfully tested in two separate clinical trials with 120 women.

Having four healthcare solutions emerging from the top ten Innovative solutions across the different sectors is very encouraging. All four address critical healthcare issues facing African health systems and have the potential to have a real impact and save lives across the continent.

eHealthALIVE 2016: Healthy Africans, Empowered Professionals and Healthcare Transformation

Join us at eHealthALIVE 2016 to see how eHealth projects and initiatives have impacted healthcare and gain valuable insights about how to implement successful, sustainable ehealth projects. eHealthALIVE is about coming together to showcase excellence, debate the challenges, embrace innovation and learn how every one of us can put eHealth into action to improve healthcare for all.

For healthy Africans 

Healthy Africans is eHealth’s most important goal. Achieving it needs eHealth to support health professionals and help to transform healthcare.

“Africans can be healthy and while we have some well-known, almost universal healthcare challenges - eHealth is a powerful mechanism in helping Africans become healthy. And that’s why we’re doing this" said Chairman of Acfee, Dr Sean Broomhead. “There’s a misconception that the burden and complexity of healthcare in Africa means that Africans can’t be healthy, they can’t live healthy lives because the disease burden is too high and investment in health is too low.”

eHealth isn’t a pseudo-battle between human resources and technology; it’s not a silver bullet; it’s not a luxury; it’s not on the periphery of quality care and it’s not impossible. eHealth is a powerful enabler and essential component to quality care that supports healthcare workers trying to improve the health of individuals and entire populations.

The goal of health Africans can be realised is technology is harnessed to re-engineer healthcare to revolve around the patient and leverage the information gathered at every patient engagement to improve outcomes and measure service delivery in a useful and meaningful way.

For healthcare transformation beyond systems strengthening

The question of eHealth or not is no longer what we’re grappling with. Instead, the question of how eHealth can be used to help each and every individual be healthy and how eHealth can enable more efficient, affordable care and a better patient experience is what eHealthALIVE 2016 aims to answer.

“We talk a lot about strengthening health systems with eHealth but eHealth forces us to rethink about how we deliver care and the processes that no longer serve us in the face of numerous constraints. We’re actually working to completely transform a system that currently can’t provide healthcare to every citizen – and eHealth is essential to that transformation,” said Broomhead.

eHealth has numerous roles to play in the transformation of healthcare: it is a practical tool for delivery or communication; a driver for necessary changes in policy and it supports healthcare workers in carrying out their work and improving their job satisfaction.

For a happier workforce

Challenges to the healthcare workforce in Africa such as skills shortages and overburdened facilities have demonstrated that if we don’t enable more productivity and engage the people who are central to the transformation, we are going to have a problem caring for people and helping them healthy. eHealth can empower healthcare professionals and form an essential component to building the workforce and retaining essential skills.

“We believe that the organisations and individuals who join us at eHealthALIVE 2016 will share our vision of healthy Africans, a happy, productive workforce and complete transformation of our health systems,” said Editor at eHealthNews, Taryn Springhall. “We don’t want to deliver another informative conference; we are aiming to align stakeholders to these three meaningful objectives and harness the momentum that comes from an industry-wide shared purpose that will result in tangible, measurable activity.”

Stakeholders are invited to register early interest at www.ehealthalive.co.za to stay up to date with programme developments.

The Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) has hosted several successful eHealth conferences, notably in 2010 and 2014. It’s following on with a series of annual health informatics conference for Asia starting on 13 October 2015 for two days. Its objective is to provide a common platform to share knowledge in all aspects of health and medical informatics initiatives and ICT innovation adoption in healthcare.

The first in the series is in Colombo from October 13 – 14, 2015. It’s theme’s ICT for Post 2015 Challenges. It’ll bring together Sri Lankan, regional and international eHealth experts, policy makers, practitioners and suppliers for 300 delegates/

It’s partners are the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) and the Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA). Prof Dissanayake leads Sri Lanka’s eHealth and is designated as CMA chair from 2106.

East Africa's inaugural eHealth conference will be over four days from June 22 to 25, 2015 in Naivasha, Kenya. It’ll bring together key decision-makers and stakeholders from across the medical, health, technology, governmental, corporate, financial, education and developmental sectors around the theme of enhancing universal healthcare through eHealth.

An article in AllAfrica says the conference, an initiative of Kenya's Ministry of Health in partnership with other key stakeholders, will involve plenaries over the four days,  and working groups focusing on key eHealth themes. The conference is the first-of-its-kind in the region.

The objectives include:

  • Identifying and discussing priority eHealth approaches
  • Addressing health challenges in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals from 2015
  • Contribute to developing Kenya’s eHealth policy
  • Reviewing the Kenya’s e-Health strategy

The conference is expected to draw over 500 delegates from across the region with another 5000 participating through interactive digital platforms. "The conference will immerse delegates in an atmosphere of the digital E-Health future that will be actualized as a reality in the form of actions and key deliverables as declared at the conclusion of the conference," said Onesmus Kamau, Head of eHealth, Ministry of Health.

Participants will have opportunities to engage on tracks based on the six World Health Organization (WHO) Universal Health Coverage (UHC) components of:

  • Health Financing and universal coverage.
  • Essential medicines and health products
  • Health workforce
  • National health policies
  • Health Statistics and Information Systems
  • Service delivery and safety.

An online radio channel has also been launched, dedicated to discussing eHealth issues. Numerous social media platforms will also encourage further participation and communication. The event is a major undertaking for eHealth across the continent.  

This year’s eHealth Asia is in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 12 to 14 October 2015. The Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka (HISSL) is organising it in partnership with Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN). It’s set out the topics that it’s looking for in its abstracts for its call for papers. They extend across a wide eHealth range. They’re:

  • Post 2015 challenges for ICT: global burden of diseases and universal health coverage
  • Health administration Informatics
  • mHealth, telemedicine and ambulatory monitoring
  • Consumer health informatics and patient portals
  • Nursing and pharmacy informatics
  • Integrated care pathway and interoperable EHRs and EMRs
  • Ethics, law and information security in Healthcare IT
  • eHealth policy and standards
  • Visualization of clinical and epidemiological data
  • Open source adoption and governance in the healthcare domain
  • ICT for medical and health education
  • Inter-sectoral collaboration and stakeholder engagement in eHealth
  • eHealth Innovation
  • Big data, decision support systems and knowledge management
  • ICT governance and enterprise architecture in the healthcare domain
  • Imaging informatics and laboratory Information Systems
  • Simulation, modelling and data mining in healthcare
  • Bio-surveillance, pandemic preparedness and disaster management.

The deadline for submitting your abstracts is June 15. The limit is 800 words. If you need to discuss your abstract, the email address is conference@email.lk. Registration with HISSL’s straightforward. Countries outside the AeHIN’s region are welcome.

eLearning Africa’s next conference is from 20 to 22 May at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This year marks the organisations tenth year. eLearning Africa will include stories, experiences, research, thinking and expertise that make up the complex and changing ICT environment for development, education and training in Africa today.

Its theme’s Enriching Tomorrow. It deals with the role of technology-assisted learning in:

  • Helping to develop the skills needed for Africa’s future of Africa
  • Equipping young Africans with entrepreneurial expertise
  • Supporting capacity development in critical social and economic sectors such as health
  • Helping a new generation of entrepreneurs to develop innovative solutions in the education technology sector
  • Developing and promoting African research
  • Boosting international cooperation in education between African countries and the rest of the world
  • Expanding open education resources and tools.

Keynote speakers include:

  • HE Dr Debretsion Gebremichael, Deputy Prime Minister of Ethiopia and Minister of Communications and Information Technology
  • HE Dr Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner of Infrastructure and Energy, African Union Commission
  • Günter Nooke, Personal Representative for Africa of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel
  • Eleni Gabre-Madhin, CEO, Eleni
  • Firoze Manji, Director of the Pan-African Baraza, ThoughtWorks
  • Mark Surman, Executive Director, the Mozilla Foundation Shai Reshef, President and Founder, University of the People  

Sessions will explore how Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), Opportunity Enterprise (OE) and Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can drive innovation and deliver benefits for Africa’s higher education. They’ll also raise awareness on how ICT can help preserve linguistic and cultural heritage, offer a platform for young African entrepreneurs who are harnessing ICT for new opportunities, show how gamification bridges skills and learning gaps and present capacity-building solutions for healthcare professionals.

eHealth and mHealth will also be a key focus at this years conference with various sessions being presented. These will focus on:

  • Sustainable training for health workers, reflecting their increasing reliance on mobile technology for the knowledge and practical skills they need
  • Building eHealth communities and exploring practical initiatives for eHealth advancement and discussing methods to support practitioners, students and other stakeholders
  • mHealth: spreading vital knowledge where it isn’t only for training health workers but for spreading health knowledge to communities
  • Medical schools eLearning revolution and how medical institutions are using new infrastructure, networks and platforms to create engaging new media curriculums.

Africa’s healthcare can do more with eLearning to help narrow skill, capacity and capability gaps. eLearning Africa is helping to build a solid foundation for more eLearning in healthcare. 

On the 21st of April, 55 speakers and 120 people arrived in Bloemfontein, South Africa for the District Health Information System (DHIS) Conference. The four-day event provided a platform to explore new developments, innovations and possibilities around health information systems development and information use. It was a joint event by Health Information Systems Program (HISP) and South African National Department of Health. Over the last 20 years, DHIS in many  Sub-Saharan African countries and Asian countries has evolved from spreadsheets supporting paper based records to a sophisticated web based system.

The goal of the conference was to explore and share best practices and lessons learned. These are derived from a wide range of experience and stakeholdres, such as health information users, systems developers, health leaders, programme managers, district managers, provincial managers and health planners.  Participants were from eight countries: Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Nigeria, Lesotho, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.

South Africa’s National Department of Health presented its innovative work computerising health facilities and developing electronic data capture in health clinics. Its 700 Facilities initiative brings 21st century technology to health facilities with the aim of decreasing patients’ waiting times and improving service quality.

Three round table groups reviewed:

  • Implementing EHRs in resource-constrained contexts
  • Innovations and best practices for hosting large databases in the cloud, including security issues, back-up and recovery procedures and data access
  • Achievements from South Africa’s eHealth Normative Standards Framework for Interoperability.

Keynote speakers included:

  • HISP’s Dr Vincent Shaw on the ways that health information systems are developing in Africa
  • Milani Wolmarans dealt with the South African government perspective of eHealth for better Systems for better health
  • Dr Lynn Hanmer from the MRC examined partnerships as a significant factor in Health Information Systems Strengthening
  • Ms Ineke Buskens explored gender issues in her presentation on a woman-friendly health information system
  • Dr Peter Benjamin from HealthEnabled described recent developments using mHealth to eliminate mother  to child transmission of HIV/AIDS
  • Dr Theo Lippeveld covered strengthening global systems
  • Prof Jørn Braa from Oslo gave his perspectives on DHIS past, present and future
  • The African Centre for eHealth Excellence (Acfee) chairperson, Dr Sean Broomhead, updated the conference on the Centre’s initiatives across the continent, including an update on the need for expanded capacity and capability on several eHealth themes, including regulation for better eHealth investment.

The range of themes was considerable. It’s indicative of DHIS’s progress over 20 years.

Health informatics isn’t new. Its history described by the Health Works Collective  is that the first professional informatics organisation started in 1949 by Dr Gustav Wagner. He called it the German Society for Medical Documentation, Computer Science and Statistics. From this beginning, its reach is now global, through organisations such as the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA).

In 1993, Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA) was created. Its goal is to encourage African countries to develop their National Health Informatics Societies so they can qualify to participate in global health informatics by joining IMIA. National societies are automatically HELINA members.

Now in its twelfth year, HELINA provides the main health informatics event for the continent. Its annual conference for 2014, postponed because of the Ebola outbreak, is 7 to 11 March 2015 at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) Conference Centre at the University of Ghana in Accra. It’s hosted jointly with the Ghana Health Informatics Association (GHIA).

The sessions on Saturday and Sunday, 7 and 8 March, are tutorials. They’ll deal with:

  • Big Data analytics and data mining
  • Health information systems and interoperability, including Open-Source HIS
  • A SNOMED CT
  • A framework for HIS semantic Interoperability
  • Developing health informatics education and training
  • Education, the driving force and capacity builder for health Informatics’ future.

It promises days of rich endeavour.