• Leadership
  • eHealth for SDG promoted at East African Ministerial Conference

    Kigali, Rwanda has been a magnanimous host to eHealth events, this Autumn. Following on from last week’s EAC Regional eHealth and Telemedicine Workshop, the 2nd EAC Regional eHealth and Telemedicine Ministerial Conference was Thursday 17 April. The Ministerial Conference considered the report and recommendations of the workshop, under the theme “harnessing science, technology and innovation to transform healthcare delivery  and accelerate the attainment of sustainable development goals in East Africa". It’s yet another high level African meeting exploring the role of eHealth in helping us to achieve universal health coverage, hosted by the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO).

    “Discuss how technology can be used to enhance healthcare delivery” was a challenge posed by Rt Hon Dr Ali H Kirunda Kivejinja, Chairperson of the EAC Council of Ministers, to conference delegates, in his opening remarks. He emphasised the importance of cooperation to secure the technologies’ “ultimate goal of improving standards of living and increasing life expectancy of East Africans”.

    Clear directives were provided on the way forward. The Ministerial Conference: The 2nd EAC Regional e-Health and Telemedicine Ministerial Conference:

    "Urged the EAC Partner States that do not have a National e-Health Strategy develop it in line with the WHO - ITU National e-Health Strategy Toolkit [to develop one] by 2020;Directed EASTECO to conduct an EAC regional e-Health readiness assessment incorporating aspects of systems interoperability, costs and benefits of investing in e-Health by 30th December 2019 in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat, East African Health Research Commission, Partner States’ National Science and Technology Commissions/Councils and Partners;Directed EASTECO to promote incubation of local digital health solutions in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat and the Partner States’ Ministries and Agencies responsible for ICT, Science, Technology and Innovation and submit progress reports to relevant Sectoral Councils and the Council of Ministers every two years;Urged the Sectoral Council on Health to coordinate the development of regional policies, laws, regulations, guidelines, standards, on health facility/patient safety, data sharing, data security and privacy to facilitate e-health enabled in country and cross border patient referrals within the EAC Partner States by 30th June 2020 directed the EAC Regional Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Engineering and eHealth to conduct a study in the application of eLearning systems for training Health Professional in the Region and IUCEA to develop a regional framework to enhance regional and south-south collaboration in capacity building for e-Health by Jan 2020;Directed EASTECO to take leadership in convening the EAC regional e-health and telemedicine workshops, ministerial conferences and international exhibitions every two years on a rotational basis among the Partner States in last week of October as part of the meetings of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers responsible for Health in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat, the EAHRC and the EAC Regional Center for Excellence for Biomedical Engineering and e-Health; andApproved hosting of the 3rd EAC regional e-health and telemedicine workshops, ministerial conferences and international exhibitions by the Republic of Uganda from 28th to 30th October 2020 as approved by the 16th Ordinary Meeting of the EAC Sectoral Council of Ministers of Health."

    Collaboration and cooperation for eHealth for impact is a growing theme in African regional communities. Congratulations to the organising team and it’s tireless leader, Ms Gertrude Ngabirano Executive Secretary, EASTECO. It is a timely theme for eHealth to realise its potential and its critical role I supporting UHC.

    Photo – Ministerial Panel Picture, from left to right: Dr. Rashid Aman, Chief Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Republic of Kenya; Hon. Ken. Obura, Chief Administrative Secretary, Ministry of East African Community and Norther Corridor Development, Republic of Kenya; Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali H. Kirunda Kivejinja, Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers; Hon. Sarah Achieng Opendi, State Minister for Health - General Duties, Republic of Uganda;  Dr. Patrick Ndimubanzi, Minister of State in the Ministry of Health in charge of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Republic of Rwanda; Mr. Toritoi Ngosayon Bunto, Ag. High Commissioner of the United Republic of Tanzania in Rwanda; representing Hon. Dr. Ummy Ally Mwalimu, Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, Seniors and Children in URT.

    Photo - Ms. Gertrude Ngabirano, Executive Secretary of EASTECO

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    Cover photo – Rt. Hon. Dr. Ali H. Kirunda Kivejinja, Second Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for EAC Affairs, Republic of Uganda and Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers giving remarks

  • African Alliance of Digital Health Networks to rally support for African countries

    “We want to go far” said Olasupo Oyedepo, Tuesday, announcing the launch of the African Alliance of Digital Health Networks on LinkedIn. Olasupo is Project Director at ICT4HEALTH Project and Director of the new Alliance. He is a bold man with a bold vision of renewal, to:

    Connect the eHealth and digital health networks emerging in AfricaExpand the platform of support for African countries and their eHealth initiatives.

    The launch was at the Transform Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on 8 May 2018. The Alliance was first conceptualised at the 2016 Global Digital Health Forum that took place in Maryland, USA. A key aim's to ensure that African countries have the support and resources needed to develop strong eHealth “helping to grow a cadre of digital health leaders and entrepreneurs in Africa”. Its programmes will focus on digital health leadership, entrepreneurship, mentorship and peer learning. The leadership and capacity development emphasis is well matched with Acfee's priorities.

    Our African countries’ eHealth expertise and initiatives are growing fast, and beginning to contribute to health systems strengthening. Growth will continue and the additional resources and support that initiatives such as the Alliance may bring will accelerate these efforts. Acfee congratulates Olasupo and the new Alliance and looks forward to learning soon about its programmes and how collaboration plans to make a rapid and significant impact on Africa's eHealth, so the Alliance can go far and fast.

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    Photo from launch, left to right:

    Gaelle GisubizoDykki Settle – PATHCaren Althauser – PATHHuguette Diakabana – Deputy Director, African AllianceOlasupo Oyedepo – Director, African AllianceBen Aliwa – PATH

  • New Commonwealth Digital Health Centre emphasises eHealth’s coming of age

    When we founded Acfee, late 2013, there were few centres focusing on eHealth or digital health. eHealth’s opportunities, and risks, were poorly recognised and a lot of our time was spent talking with health’s academics and government leaders about what it means. This led to Acfee setting its focus for the last five years on stimulating the industry; developing eHealth leadership and capacity and creating a more fertile environment to help the fledgling initiatives mushrooming across African countries to succeed.

    Now that the industry is growing, regional centres are just as important, and the role or organisations like Acfee is switching from clarifying the opportunity to providing tools that the growing eHealth network will use to deliver health benefits for our people. There is lots of work to be done and more Centres are appearing to help make progress.

    Acfee welcomes the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health, launched in London on 20 April 2018 at a side event to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2018. The theme of the event was ‘Global Health Security & the Digital Health Society 2030 - Innovation & Investment for One Planetary Health & Universal Health Coverage’. It’s a fitting focus for the new Centre's digital health efforts too.

    Acfee commends the leadership provided by Prof Vajira Dissanayake, Commonwealth Medical Association President, and his colleagues. We look forward to collaborating with the Centre to jointly support realising digital health’s enormous potential to transform our health systems.

    Watch this Video Message from WHO

    WHO’s Director General, His Excellency Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, welcomed the establishment of the centre and “its focus on fostering innovative technologies for health that are appropriate for low income countries”. He reiterated WHO’s support for efforts to harness digital technologies for a healthier, safer and fairer world.

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    The picture was provided by the Commonwealth Medical Association. It shows from left to right:

    Denis Gilhooly, Executive Director, Global Health 2030 Innovation TaskforceProf Vajira Dissanayake, President, Commonwealth Medical AssociationDr Pascale A. Allotey, Director, International Institute for Global Health, United Nations University (UNU), MalaysiaHis Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri LankaProfessor Dame Sally Davis, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England, Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government, Co-Convener, United Nations Interagency Coordination Group on Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)Right Honorauble Christopher Fearne, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister, Malta

  • Cape Town’s eHealth accelerator programme offers opportunities for graduates

    Many of us have good ideas. Turning them into action is often harder.  Cape Town's Accelerator Programmes aims to help. It offers opportunities for graduates to access finance and work experience to turn their ideas into a viable business.

    There are two pilot programmes. Accelerator two opens for applications on the 15th March 2018. Accelerator one has announced its eight finalists. They participate in a ten week online programme and have face to face interactions with their mentors. 

    Business coaches in eHealth started on the 23rd January 2018. The course extends over 10 weeks. There is one topic each week taking about ten hours. Finalists take part in discussions about health problems and solutions. Strategic planning, alignment to health-care environments, defining and marketing proposals are the main themes.  Discussions on topics relevant to running a profitable and beneficial eHealth business are included too.

    Finalists are :

    Petrus Van Niekerk :  Udok allows doctors to interact with patients who are far away as well as administer treatment and monitor patient careDr William Mapham : Vula Mobile is a system which allows doctors to refer patients to specialists in tertiary hospitals Dr Anuschka Coovadia : HealthAtHome is a company that will provide patients with the best care from the comfortability of their homes at an affordable price. Brighton Khumalo : ConnecTB is an online tool which allows health care providers to register and monitor TB patientsNicole Van Der Merwe : GeneCare Molecular Genetics will provide patients with access to customised diet plans as well as exercise programmes which will be accompanied by educational video coachingDr Musaed Abrahams : Aviro Health has developed an app that will mentor nurses in primary health care to efficiently treat patients with HIVSuretha Erasmus : GC Network  has developed a pregnancy screening app that educates pregnant mother of their individual risk for a chromosome abnormality as well as provides detailed information regarding available prenatal testing which will help the mothers make informed decisionsVere Shaba : RAR Group VRHEALTH is a company that created a virtual yet realistic world for substance abuse patients who have been placed in a rehabilitation to develop new behavioral patterns through the virtual world Is the programme a model for Africa’s other health systems? It offers a smart way to encourage and develop Africa’s budding eHealth entrepreneurs. 

  • Acfee welcomes two new interns

    Acfee’s intern programme plays an important role in helping to achieve our goals in the rapidly expanding and competitive African eHealth landscape. In February we welcomed two talented and driven young professionals:

    Ms Kamogelo Motlhomi, a clinical associate graduate from Wits University Ms Nontobeko Shabangu, a public health graduate from Monash University.

    Acfee interns acquire relevant, practical exposure to numerous aspects of the eHealth industry. In return they contribute fresh perspectives on eHealth’s challenges and opportunities, adding new insights and ideas to Acfee’s vibrant talent pool. 

    We look forward to a year of knowledge sharing, value creation and successful outcomes. Welcome to the Acfee team!

  • eHealth's 'good to great' formula offers success for 2018

    Amit Ahlawat in his book, “Seven Ways to Sustained Happiness”, says, “New doors open up; we stop looking back, enjoy the present and start planning and prioritising for the future in an optimal and optimistic manner." Similarly, as the doors of 2018 have swung open, eHealth must look forward, carrying with it the wins and lessons from 2017 to plan for an optimistic future. So, what does this future look like?  More importantly, what are Africa’s  eHealth priorities in 2018?

    2017 left us with a whirlwind of eHealth innovation, some big wins and some great lessons. Over the past few days, every noteworthy eHealth blogger, author and fund have written about their insights for 2018. As a young voice in this industry, I’d like to share my eHealth predictions for the year ahead. 

    My infatuation with analytics leads me to my first prediction; 2017’s curiosity with BDdata will result in greater investment in analysing data and making it more useful in 2018. eHNA’s published several articles over the last two years around the need for predictive analytics and the applications of Machine Learning (ML) in Africa’s healthcare. Micromarket Monitor predicts a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 28% in predictive analytics investment in the Middle East and Africa by 2019.  Growth will be driven by the high penetration of new technologies in eHealth, rapidly increasing eHealth start-ups in Africa and the deluge of data they generate.

    Next, the rise in mHealth applications will swing more users towards Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD). While  it’s been a hot topic in 2017, Africa’s eHealth seems unconvinced by it. An eHNA article reported that over 90% of healthcare workers own a smart device. Barring security concerns, mHealth’s growing use in clinical decision support and healthcare delivery will propel government and organisations towards developing BYOD strategies. 

    Unsuspectingly, gamification may grab lots of attention this year. As healthcare moves away from a reactive to a proactive response, gamification may provide a large helping-hand in behaviour modification and awareness. It’s already created a sensation with Pokemon Go. Research suggests it improves physical and mental health.

    There’ll be many more predictions and events for Africa’s eHealth in 2018. The success of these will be underpinned by prioritising and investing in:

    Developing eHealth leadershipChange managementRisk managementCyber-security. 

    eHealth needs a unique type of leader with the right eHealth perspective, insight and skills to identify and maximise Africa’s eHealth opportunities. Without this, opportunities may not be seized. Acfee feels strongly about this and has put together a number of resources to develop eHealth leaders and champions.

    Change management’s vital for eHealth transformation. It helps stakeholders understand, commit to, accept and embrace the changes that eHealth brings with it. Prosci reports that projects with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet their objectives than projects with poor change management.

    Lastly, no endeavour is without risk. England’s WannaCry crisis and spambot Onliner are proof that eHealth and innovation will attract a fair amount of risk. 2017’s frenzy around cyber-security has taught us some valuable lessons. Lessons that need to carried into this year and strongly embedded into risk management protocols. For preparedness is no luxury, but a cost to eHealth’s progression and efforts.

    I look upon 2018 with great zeal and zest for the infinite opportunities that lie ahead. 2017 has shown that Africa has a promising eHealth future ahead of us, and the contributions you make as innovators, collaborators and visionaries can only strengthen it. I wish you all a prosperous new year and hope that you will remain in our readership as we unfold 2018’s innovations and breakthroughs.

  • Lessons for Africa on making eHealth work

    Investing in the right eHealth then realising its benefits are global challenges. England’s NHS’s taking advice from the National Advisory Group on Health Information Technology  in England, chaired by

    Professor Robert Wachter Chair of University of California, San Francisco Department of Medicine. The report, Making IT work: harnessing the power of health information technology to improve care in England, sets out findings and recommendations that can inform Africa’s ehealth programmes too. The core perspective’s that while continuously changing healthcare’s a considerable challenge, eHealth that creates a fully digitised NHS important, will be the most sweeping and challenging.

    There are ten findings and principles:

    Digitise, so adopt eHealth, for the right reasonsIt’s better to have the right eHealth than quick eHealtheHealth’s Return on Investment (ROI) isn’t just financial, patient safety and healthcare quality are important tooDecisions on eHealth centralisation should learn, but not over-learn, the lessons of the National Progarmme for Information Technology (NpfIT) Interoperability (IOp) should be built in from the outsetBoth privacy and data sharing are very importanteHealth must embrace user-centered designThe end of implementation’s the beginning, not the endSuccessful eHealth strategies must be multi-faceted, requiring workforce developmenteHealth entails technical and adaptive change.

    For Africa’s eHealth, Acfee would add two other interacting principles. One is to adopt a business case methodology that enables rigorous, reliable eHealth investment decisions and lays a foundation for M&E. It leads on to the second principle; undertake M&E before, during and after implementation. The learning value is considerable, and leads to better business cases and investment decisions.

    Ten recommendations are:

    Complete a thoughtful, long-term national engagement strategyAppoint national chief clinical information officer with an effective roleDevelop a workforce of trained clinician-informaticists in hospitals, with appropriate resources and authorityStrengthen and grow the CCIO roles, others trained in clinical care and informatics and health ICT professionals Allocate national funding to help hospitals implement eHealth and maximise benefitsSet a time for substantial eHealth maturity when central financial support for hospitals can end and regulators deem those that have not achieved high eHealth levels as not compliant with quality and safety standardsLink national finance viable local implementation and improvement plansOrganise local and regional learning networks to support implementation and improvementEnsure IOp as a core eHealth component needed to promote better clinical care, innovation and researchSupport a robust, independent evaluation of eHealth strategies and act on the findings.

    Sustained investment in eHealth leadership across Africa’s healthcare’s needed too. Acfee proposes a triumvirate of clinical, political and executive eHealth leadership throughout healthcare. It’ll take time to reach a critical mass, so starting now’s essential. Future eHealth Leaders at eHealth ALIVE 2017 in October’s provides a step forward. 

    Appendix F’s an eHealth maturity index. Its self-assessment has three main themes:

    Readiness, strategic alignment, leadership, resourcing, governance and information governanceCapabilities of records, assessments and plans, transfers of care, orders and results management, medicines management and optimisation and remote and assistive care and standardsInfrastructure for WiFi, mobile devices, single sign-on and business continuity.

    Africa’s eHealth will benefit from a fourth component, benefits. It include benefits realisation and the timescales need to reach the critical mass to provide a socio-economic return on eHealth investment.

  • AMA sets eHealth leadership role and vision for doctors

    Africa’s eHealth is characterised by fragmented data. So is eHealth data in the US, where doctors have stepped up their eHealth leadership and set up a new collaborative initiative. Is it a role and approach for those of us practicing medicine in African countries to consider?

    The American Medical Association (AMA) announced its move into a new data evolution era of better, more effective patient care to improve, organise and share health care information. Its Integrated Health Model Initiative (IHMI) provides a platform to bring together health and technology sectors around a common data model that’s missing from healthcare and eHealth. A profile’s on YouTube.

    IHMI is the national imperative to pioneer a shared framework for organising health data, emphasising patient-centric information and refining data elements to those that support predictive actions for better outcomes. Its online platform will support a continuous learning environment enabling a common data model to evolve with real-world use and participants’ feedback. By evolving available health data to provide a complete pictures of patients’ journeys across wellness, illness, treatment and beyond allows healthcare to focus on patient outcomes, goals and wellness.

    Another innovative aspect of IHMI is its support for collaboration. All healthcare and ICT stakeholders can participate. Initial collaborators include IBM, Cerner, Intermountain Healthcare, American Heart Association, American Medical Informatics Association. More are set to join. Their collaboration will help the health system learn how to collect, organise, and exchange patient-centred data in a common structure that captures the most important data needed to improve care, long-term wellness and transform the data into a rich stream of accessible and actionable information.

    Its effects could be far-reaching. A common data model with clinically validated data elements can accelerate development of better data organisation, management and analytics. It’s likely to foster patient care models with better outcomes, create technical innovations to address poor interoperability, cumbersome and inadequate data structures, and avoid data overload that harms clinicians’ morale.

    As we move our eHealth programmes on in African countries, IHMI highlights a vital, sophisticated health informatics and analytics theme to consider. It shows the importance of doctors’ role in eHealth, as a model for our doctors and other health professionals to consider taking on an equivalent eHealth leadership role.

  • HISP’s global eHealth role expands

    As the global eHealth community matures, lessons and good practices are beginning to emerge. Some of these are about organisations and their business and software models. The Health Information Systems Programme (HISP) organisations provide a cogent example. They operate in numerous countries across global regions and are as different as they are similar.

    The differences are pronounced. The businesses range from informal, two to three-person teams, to large, formal company structures such as HISP-India and HISP-South Africa that have adopted robust business systems, employ experienced technical experts and managers, and enjoy long-term contracts.

    Where the differences end is when it comes to software. HISP entities share an almost ubiquitous commitment to the District Health Information System (DHIS) software platform. The latest version is DHIS2. It’s a success story for Free and Open Source Software (FOSS). It combines two essential components of successful FOSS:

    A highly customisable platformA highly professional core development team.

    The HISP network is developing and enhancing its role across several regions. The emerging HISP Partnership Organisation (HPO) is a collaborative effort to watch. Its members include HISP organisations in South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, West Africa, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines. Its founders are key personalities who’ve been closely associated with HISP entities and DHIS developments. They believe in collaboration and the need to build local capacity to ensure sustainability of DHIS implementations and broader health information management.

    Regional networks

    Regional networks are also taking notice of HISP and the DHIS. At the Asian eHealth Information Network (AeHIN) annual conference in Myanmar in March, DHIS2 was a hot topic of conversation in most sessions. The DHIS2 platform provides the foundation for many AeHIN countries' routine information systems.

    Africa’s AeHIN equivalent is growing too. It's the African Centre for eHealth Excellence (Acfee). The potential synergistic relationship between these regional networks and the HISP entities presents a substantial opportunity for cooperation and collaboration to move eHealth forward.

    Acfee supports local eHealth capacity building to develop the eHealth leadership and policy strengthening essential for sustainability. Learning from AeHIN's success is critical. The keynote address by AeHIN governing committee member Jai Ganesh Udayasankaran, at eHealthAFRO 2017 in Johannesburg 2-4 October 2017, provided tangible suggestions that will move the partnership into action. 

  • Acfee internship applications open today

    At Acfee, the interns in the first cohort complete their year of service in December. They've set the bar high for those who follow in 2018, engaging actively in Acfee initiatives and becoming advocates for eHealth in transforming health systems.

    The Acfee Internship Programme offers enthusiastic graduates the opportunity to develop themselves professionally through practical experience in Acfee's work. These activities stretch across various areas such as its four main pillars: healthier Africans, building eHealth knowledge bases, strengthening and securing good eHealth and improving health outcomes. Internships are offered depending on the needs and capacity of the Acfee team to receive and supervise interns. 

    Today, Acfee begins accepting internship applications for 2018. Four places are available. Interns will be part of Acfee’s operational team, working closely with eHealth experts and supporting Acfee’s work in developing eHealth leadership and capacity for Africa. They will also contribute to posts for eHealth News Africa (eHNA), Acfee’s daily blog and even collaborate on publications.

    Do you have what it takes to be part of this dynamic team? Enquire and send your CV and a one-page motivation to interns@acfee.org.