• Leadership
  • SAVE THE DATE! eHealthALIVE 2017 Southern Africa 2-4 October 2017

    We are thrilled to announce dates and the venue for this year's eHealthALIVE Southern Africa 2017 conference.

    2 - 4 October 2017
    Emperors Palace, Johannesburg


    The event will be hosted by the South African National Department of Health (NDoH) in collaboration with an Acfee-led consortium of leading eHealth organisations, including Health Information Systems Program-SA (HISP-SA), the South African Health Informatics Association (SAHIA) HealthEnabled, and a growing array of partners.

    An extensive pre-conference programme will run at the Emperors Palace from 27 September 2017. Themes, programme, speakers and much more will be pushed through to the conference website in a regular series of releases building up to the event.

    Join us for an unforgettable event, where healthcare professionals, government leaders and industry stakeholders explore tangible eHealth opportunities and eHealth excellence in Southern Africa. eHealthALIVE 2017 will empower participants to advance eHealth in the region by showcasing proven strategies, best practice and real-world learning to realise measurable benefits for patients, communities, clinicians, and the industry as a whole.

    This year’s event builds on the success of eHealthALIVE 2016. It has a new, extended programme of seminars, an academic programme and high-level policy meetings to discuss and build a roadmap for eHealth to move forward in the region. 

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    NDoH is the government department responsible for health service delivery in South Africa. It's vision is "a long and healthy life for all South Africans". Its mission is "to improve health status through the prevention of illnesses and the promotion of healthy lifestyles and to consistently improve healthcare delivery system by focusing on access, equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability". 

    ACFEE is an African network of eHealth experts. Acfee develops eHealth capacity and leadership for African countries to support improved health outcomes for our people. Acfee leads the eHealthALIVE 2017 initiative.

    HISP-SA develops and implements sustainable and integrated Health Information Systems that empower communities, healthcare workers and decision makers to improve the coverage, quality and efficiency of health services. 

    SAHIA is an independent organisation formed to promote the professional application of Health Informatics in South Africa. SAHIA is a member of the International Medical Informatics Association (IMIA). 

    HealthEnabled is an Africa-based non-profit. They are digital health architects that help governments and other health organisations integrate proven life-saving digital health interventions into their health systems at scale.

  • The next WHO DG is from Africa - are these the main challenges and opportunities?

    It’s with considerable pride that eHNA can post about WHO’s next Director-General’s from Africa. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, a former health minister and foreign minister of Ethiopia, will be WHO’s next Director-General (DG). He’s the first African to lead the UN agency.

     

    The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked global health experts and charity leaders what the new DG’s priorities should be. Their answers are in an article in allAfrica.

     

    He’ll immediately be confronted by an extensive array of urgent, long-term public health challenges. They include:

    • Outbreaks of highly infectious global epidemics such as Ebola, cholera, yellow fever, Zika and MERS
    • Global rise in Non-communicable Diseases (NCD), such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease
    • Impact of stress and hardship on mental health and wellbeing
    • Continuing fight against HIV, malaria, TB and maternal, adolescent and child health.

    WHO must also help drive Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and bridge the divides between global, national and local communities’ health systems. These can determine the courses of outbreaks or health risks.

    Health challenges start and end in communities, so the new DG must be ready to put people at the centre. One way’s to give local communities a seat at the global public health table to contribute to building a stronger, more resilient and healthier world.

    Building on Africa’s health ministers’ recent eHealth leadership initiative in Geneva, reported on eHNA, is a specific priority for Africa. It includes leading advances in technology and using open access data bases and data warehouses, eHealth innovation and mHealth technologies. There’s an opportunity for WHO to embrace and promote these more effectively. This needs a context of WHO calling on new ideas and innovations if it is to meet the numerous health challenges facing communities.

    Other initiatives include:

    • Expanding strong confidence in WHO’s role in rapidly responding to, managing and containing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases
    • Ensuring there is international and national leadership regarding the major health threat of antimicrobial resistance and the management of drug resistant infections, including CDC’s outpatients antibiotic stewardship plans, reported on eHNA
    • Emphasising healthcare workers’ protection
    • Addressing inequality in health by promoting quality healthcare to disadvantaged communities, especially women and children
    • Expanding and broadening WHO’s funding base beyond the US and Europe

    The WHO has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate recent advances in global health. Tedros can spearhead a highly effective, efficient, and forward-thinking WHO that embraces innovation, to achieve a world where affordable, quality healthcare’s in reach of those currently denied it. It’ll take time. It’s a never ending journey. eHNA looks forward to the new DG taking Africa further along the road.

  • High eHealth leadership event set for Geneva

    Africa’s health ministers have set up an event alongside the World Health Assembly (WHA) to discuss the government leaders’ critical role developing, costing, and implementing national eHealth strategies. Topics include co-ordination and relation shipbuilding between ministries of health and information and communications technologies (ICT).



    Arranged for Monday 22 May 2017 from 1800 to 2100 in Geneva, African Ministerial Dialogue on Digital Health Leadership organisers extend an invitation to a wide audience to participate. Developing and expanding eHealth leadership’s vital for realising eHealth’s benefits.

    Acfee see eHealth leadership as a triumvirate of clinical, political and executive leadership, and extending across eHealth’s wide range and depth. This dialogue, jointly hosted by African health ministers, is a huge step forward in developing Africa’s eHealth leadership.

  • eHealth’s like all initiatives, it’s more than just health ICT

    As eHealth becomes more sophisticated, its demands on integrated investment in health ICT and health and healthcare transformation increases to realise its benefits. Acfee has always advocated a combined approach to eHealth programmes, with an overarching goal of healthier Africans. It’s supported by similar requirements for scientific innovations for healthcare. 

    In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Pennsylvania University says advances in genomic and molecular research that lead to precision medicine will have insufficient benefits without parallel innovations in how predictive analytics is applied in healthcare delivery. Their new data and eHealth requirements have to adopt the same principles.

    It proposes two integrated activities. One’s a Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI). The other’s a Precision Delivery Initiative (PDI). Their common goals are integrating predictive analytics into clinical workflows and using innovative data sources to establish best practices that are clinically validated, and empower patients to use their own data to support personalised medicine. This should help to speed up the transformation of clinical care.

    PDI requirements match those for eHealth. The team sees them as including: 

    • Partnerships between a wide range of clinical and ICT stakeholders
    • Incorporating PMI in Clinical Decision Support (CDS) systems
    • Using real-time alerts in clinical workflows
    • Putting PMI into patients’ hands.

    These changes for PMI and eHealth are demanding to achieve. Without them, benefits can’t be maximised.

  • Sierra Leone sets up a National eHealth Coordination Hub

    Succeeding with eHealth’s complexities across national health systems invariably needs a core organisation. Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation has set up its National eHealth Coordination Hub to co-ordinate and regulate eHealth. It’ll also support eHealth expansion across the country’s health system. The Ministry of Information and Communications is a leading part of the initiative too.

    A report in Awoko says support’s provided by UNICEF as part of a US$2 million project financed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to strengthen Sierra Leone’s eHealth Management Information System in Sierra Leone. It’s part of the US Government’s commitment to strengthen health systems and services after Ebola. Laurie Meininger, Deputy Chief of Mission, said the Awoko that “Sierra Leone is taking a step in the right direction, recognizing the growing importance of health coordination for the future health and sustainable development goals in Sierra Leone.”

    The Hub has three main goals I supporting the government’s eHealth ambitions. They’re:

    • Co-ordination
    • Regulation
    • Improve alignment of data with national health system goals.

    Acfee’s regulations database has extending across 64 eHealth regulation topics shows Africa’s health systems trailing those on other continents. Catching up’s a big task that needs resources for regulation risk assessments, regulation decisions and compliance reviews. Selecting and implementing relevant and appropriate priorities are essential to expanding eHealth regulations.

    It’s an important achievement. For Africa’s health systems, affordable, sustainable eHealth decisions are tough to take. Creating the Hub provides Sierra Leone with a constructive way to take them. 

  • A roadmap for image-based mobile technologies in Africa

    "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 conference on ICT and SDGs starts today

    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.

  • Acfee and Rome Business School collaborate on eHealth Masters

    Today Acfee signed a collaborative agreement with Rome Business School (RBS) to enrol more African students on its Masters in E-Health Management. It’s a course with a proven track record and includes students from across the spectrum of health and healthcare professions, not just people working directly on eHealth. RBS already has students from Africa. Acfee members can now benefit from discounted fees.

    A core goal for Acfee is helping our colleagues across African countries to develop their countries' human eHealth capacity. Formal, university education is part of this and Acfee is building partnerships with a number of institutions in Africa and beyond. There’s now an opportunity for all types of Africa’s health and eHealth entities to set up programmes of eHealth learning for all types of workers who want to advance eHealth to achieve healthier Africans.

    It’s a big step forward for Africa’s eHealth to have wider access to RBS's proven Masters programme. The course is a combination of theory and case studies from live eHealth projects. The next one, in English, starts in March 2017 and completes in September 2017. Another course is planned to start later in the year. There are also opportunities for seminars and workshops.

    The discounted price is only available to Acfee members. Acfee membership is free to individuals working in health and eHealth, health and healthcare organisations and professional bodies and health ICT entities. If you’re already a member, you can use your Acfee membership number in your RBS application. To join, email info@acfee.org with details of your current role and employer, and Acfee will send you a membership number and information pack. For security purposes, Acfee holds members’ details offline.

    RBS is a managerial training and research institute of excellence. It operates internationally. Its aims are to help to close the gap between academia and job markets by providing managerial training courses that convey the knowledge needed to kick off or develop professional careers or business activities. Its mission is to train entrepreneurs, managers and professionals to a level of excellence in their competence and ethics in business and work. This extends to them contributing to developing economic humanity, more prosperous and fair societies and respect of the central role of individuals.

    Building from this ethos, Acfee will help people achieving their Masters to become part of a growing community of African eHealth professionals. Please don’t hesitate to contact Acfee for more details and help in designing an eHealth training programme tailored to your country's needs.

  • Will your eHealth New Year resolutions help secure better health for Africans?

    Happy New Year to everyone. Congratulations on your 2016 eHealth efforts. It's been quite a year, setting us up for an extraordinary African 2017.

    Thank you for reading our stories of Africa’s eHealth development. They reflect a small part of our passion to explore and support eHealth’s role in securing better health for Africans. They showcase some of the exceptional work already underway through you and our international eHealth colleagues.

    At the September African eHealth Forum (AeF), our Advisory Board set out African eHealth priorities. Details are in the AeF Report, Advancing eHealth 2016, and summarised in posts on eHNA.

    Acfee’s response will be delivered in the New Year. It will focus on bringing our five priorities to life in tangible ways that can help lead to healthier Africans.

    1. eHealth strategy

    Acfee’s research and support for African countries’ national eHealth strategies will expand. This includes a special focus on issues highlighted by the Acfee Advisory Board, including:

    • Cloud computing: learn from global experiences of the challenges and opportunities and synthesise these for health ministries to review
    • eHealth surveillance: explore the contribution of Acfee’s eHealth impact and benefits realisation research and expertise for HISP’s planned eHealth surveillance initiative in West Africa
    • Architecture: finalise the commentary on eHealth architecture to fit expanding mHealth and social media for health ministries to review
    • Interoperability (IOp): seek finance to establish Acfee technical working groups for IOp and support an IOp workshop on a use case and a development programme in an African country in collaboration with Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) to set the process of use case development in Africa

    2. eHealth governance

    Acfee’s review of start-up measures for health ministries will be published in an eBook, leading on to sophisticated arrangements as reported on eHNA.

    3. eHealth regulation

    Acfee will continue to develop affordable, sustainable approaches to eHealth regulation for health ministries to review.

    4. eHealth cyber-security

    Acfee’s on-going review of global threats, initiatives and actions will be synthesised in an expanding eBook for health ministries to use to combat cyber-threats, as reported on eHNA.

    5. eHealth impact

    Acfee will continue to develop sophisticated impact models appropriate to Africa’s needs, to help health ministries to select good initiatives, monitor and evaluate them and promote positive socioeconomic impact.

    The 2017 programme will include Acfee’s internal development, such as the internship programme to develop emerging professionals and future leaders and promote their contributions to eHealth’s advancement across Africa.

    Engagement of partners is critical too, such as professional bodies, with an important step being to work with Africa’s Public Health Associations (PHA). Developing Acfee’s eHealth curriculum will advance too with collaboration with Health Information Systems Program (HISP) and selected African and international universities, including New York University, Monash South Africa and Rome Business School for Masters degrees for Africans.

    Finally, Acfee’s two landmark events will continue, with the eHealthALIVE broad stakeholder forum planned to run in Southern Africa and the East African Community (EAC) in 2017. AEF meetings of Permanent Secretaries and other health leaders will follow these, to extract the lessons from the eHealthALIVE platform and channel them into decisions by ministries.

    Acfee’s relationships with African health ministries are growing, as are our efforts to collaborate with like-minded partners to expand stakeholder engagement to advance African eHealth.

    Our shared goal is healthier Africans, in 2017 and beyond.

  • WHO’s third global eHealth observatory report is out and Africa’s trailing

    WHO’s third global eHealth observatory report is a meaningful update on global developments and trends and poses important challenges for African countries embracing eHealth for their health systems’ transformation.

    Helping to review content for the report, along with colleagues from the WHO eTAG and many other eHealth experts, I was exposed to the considerable work underway globally, and the extraordinary teams helping to explore eHealth's role in improving our health and health systems.   

    At Acfee, we're especially interested in the implications for Africa. eHNA will post separately on each of the eight chapters in WHO’s report. Each post will take an African perspective to offer an assessment of features of its eHealth and Universal Healthcare Coverage (UHC) opportunities and constraints.

    It’s widely recognised that Africa has a considerable healthcare deficit and high disease burden. The combination creates a constant, long-standing struggle and much more than the policy and management euphemism of a challenge. Africa’s average healthcare spending per head’s some US$145, about 14% of the World Bank global average of about US$1,061. The highest’s about 62%, the lowest less than 2%. These aren’t adjusted for the high disease burden, or the difficulties of providing healthcare to extremely remote communities. It’s unrealistic to expect Africa to achieve the huge productivity increase needed to provide UHC, provide the extra cash and capacity needed, or a combination of both over the medium-term.

    Aiming to achieve UHC in this economic context is a lot more than demanding. The Global Observatory for eHealth (GOe) publication Report of the third global survey on eHealth Global diffusion of eHealth: Making universal health coverage achievable, says “It has become increasingly clear that UHC cannot be achieved without the support of eHealth.” I've heard similar sentiments expressed by African colleagues such as Liberia's Luke Bawo, speaking about his country's response to Ebola and Acfee's Ousmane Ly, describing the eHealth initiatives he's leading in West Africa.

    It's a reasonable proposition, but for Africa, it’s not enough for all people to receive the high-quality health services they need without suffering financial hardship.

    Africa’s UHC solutions are a combination of:

    • Substantial and rapid economic growth
    • Significant, sustainable increase in finance for health and healthcare
    • Converting the extra cash into sustainable real healthcare resources, including all types of healthcare workers, medicines, medical and surgical supplies and extra and better facilities
    • Proven eHealth, especially proven mHealth.

    WHO’s report says 90% of eHealth strategies reference the UHC objectives or its key elements. This is for the 58% of countries that have eHealth policies or strategies, so about 52% of all countries. For Africa, 39% of countries report having an eHealth strategy, of which 58% have UHC objectives, so about 23% of countries. Consequently, Africa’s eHealth role in UHC isn’t specified formally yet, indicating the need to enhance or replace them.

    Other limitations are that Africa’s eHealth strategies seldom integrate with related economic growth, healthcare finance and real resource strategies and plans, and none have sustainable, longer-term horizons. Africa’s eHealth strategies need upgrading for other factors either understated or not referred to in the report. Four are:

    • Effective, consistent patient unique ID
    • Interoperability (IOp), which is in its infancy across Africa
    • Cyber-security, which is becoming an increasing global challenge
    • eHealth governance, not yet well developed across Africa.

    Acfee’s African eHealth Forum (AeF) report included these in its identified priorities. Acfee will release commentaries on cyber-security and eHealth governance early in 2017. It will also be able to offer health systems opportunities to participate in developing IOp use cases using a globally recognised methodology and standard.

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    Image from the global eHealth observatory report