• SDGs
  • Can Africa’s eHealth projects avoid human burnout?

    As countries’ health systems move towards Universal Health Coverage (UHC), a challenge is to afford a new and optimum and sustained balance of resources to meet the increased demand. It includes a mix of extra health workers, more and better eHealth, and resultant gains in quality, access and efficiency. It’s an extremely demanding, integrated strategy.

    It’s also starting from a modest base. Africa’s eHealth investment needs boosting significantly and recruiting and retaining extra health workers is a long-term challenge. A report from Athena Insight shows its starting point may have even more constraints.

    In The business case for physician capability, US doctors’ burn out is identified as “48% of physicians think they’ll have trouble maintaining their workload over the long term.” The equivalent in Africa’s health systems for all health workers doesn’t offer an effective platform for the sustained engagement needed to expand eHealth for UHC. The time needed away from clinical activities will exacerbate burn out.

    On these findings, it’s important to include in eHealth programmes initiatives to fix burn out. Better capability reduces burn out from about to 51% to 27%. It includes skills and organisational changes. Jessica Sweeney-Platt, the report author, says “In an organization that emphasizes capability, team members have clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Leaders listen to the frontline and prioritize training, communication, and alignment. Innovation is prized and rewarded — especially innovation that results in fewer administrative tasks performed by physicians and other providers.”

    While the report doesn’t offer the business case one would expect from its title, it sets out some essential themes for organisational development that successful eHealth depends on. 

  • Mapping South Africans to achieve SDGs

    People’s addresses are essential for delivering some health services such as community services and appointment letters. Effective data’s needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). In Africa’s rural, remote and informal communities, it’s not so simple to achieve.

    South Africa’s Gateway Health Institute (GHI), a health and human rights organisation, has joined What3Words and Digitata for a project to bring addresses to South Africa’s informal settlements and rural areas in. The challenge to providing verifiable home addresses for South Africans was revealed during the Tlokwe by-election crisis described in the report by the Election Commission (IEC). A Constitutional Court ruling required the IEC to ensure all voters have a verifiable address within an 18 month deadline.

    People’s precise and unique locations are a big challenge to providing them with health services and products. Patients and other citizens living in informal settlements and rural areas particularly limited, especially where they have significant health needs and service delivery is poor due to a lack of information about home addresses.

    Having a home address will help improve healthcare’s outreach. It’ll contribute to SDG targets too. The project could be a model for all Africa.

  • Broadband infrastructure’s crucial for SDGs

    The Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, set up by the ITU and UNESCO, is urging policymakers, the private sector and other partners to make deployment of broadband infrastructure a top priority. The goal’s to help accelerate Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). 

    In a statement to the High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in New York from 10 to 19 July 2017, the Commission highlighted the many ways that broadband can improve global sustainable development, and improve millions of lives says an article in BIZTECH Africa. It includes addressing basic needs such as healthcare, food production and helping lift people out of poverty.

    "We must work together," said the Commission in its statement, "to harness the opportunities and benefits of ICTs, new and emerging technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence, as well as broadband-based technologies, while safeguarding against their downsides and risks. This will be critical to achieve the SDGs and realize the future we want. Let us seize the historical opportunity of the SDGs to build a model of sustainable development anchored by universal access to affordable broadband technologies and digital literacy in order to fulfil a future where no one is left behind."

    A report from ITU says only 15.4% of Africa’s households are connected to the Internet. There’s much to be done.

  • Six actions can help with the 2030 SDGs

    The World Health Statistics 2017, one of WHO’s annual publications, compiles data from its 194 Member States on 21 health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDG3) targets. It provides a snapshot of advances and threats to the health of the world’s people.

    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is the world’s most comprehensive roadmap for sustainable development. Health development can be sustainable when resources are managed by and for all people in ways which support the health and well- being of present and future generations. It also needs sufficient healthcare resources to meet people’s needs.

    To help build better systems for health and to achieve the SDG3s WHO’s promoting six main lines of action:

    Monitoring the health-related SDG3sHealth system strengthening for Universal Health Coverage (UHC)Health equity, so no one’s left behindSustainable health financingInnovation, research and developmentInter-sectoral action for health.  

    Research and innovation are key prerequisites for achieving SDG3s. Innovation’s not only invention and development of new technologies. It’s finding new ways to delivery healthcare and improve health. Continuous investment in research and innovation in new technologies and health service are essential. Without these, many of the ambitious SDG3 targets may not be achieved. Acfee sees eHealth being a major part of these initiatives.

  • Africa has five big SDG features

    Countries’ performance against Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is set out in a report from WHO. World Health Statistics 2017: Monitoring health for the SDGs includes health data for SDG3 for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and North Africa. Three features stand out, with most data for 2015.

    Of the 18 SDG3’s, a comparison of Africa’s performance with the percentage gap from the global average shows eleven are high scores that need improving, seven are low rates that need improving. Three stand out, with two others.

    Number 3 on the graph is life expectancy at birth. Number 6 is the number of people needing interventions for Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). Number 5 is the incidence of malaria. Two others are number 1, maternal mortality and 11’s the adolescent birth rate.

    Suicide mortality rate and alcohol consumption are 8 and 9. Africa has a good start on these.

    Taken as a whole, achieving the SDG3 goals is a considerable undertaking for most African countries. An average for North African countries shows they’re starting from a better baseline than SSA countries.

    How can eHealth help? With 18 targets across a range of often related health factors indicate that an effective eHealth approach’s to implement a solution with integrated architecture and Interoperability (IOp) where core data, such as patients’ IDs and health records are accessible by all end users. This will support both healthcare and public health endeavours to achieve SDG3’s goals.

  • SDGs are a top priority for EAC

    Improving African’s health’s a demanding feature of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

    At this year’s eHealth ALIVE conference, Daniel Murenzi, eHealth and Informatics lead for the East African Community (EAC) set out plans for eHealth and accountability towards their SDGs. A special emphasis is attaining the SDG Goal 3.Two parts of goal 3 are especially important. One is 3.8, achieving universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all. The other’s 3.d, strengthening healthcare capacity, especially early warnings, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

    The means to get there is accountability, and eHealth is the enabler. eHealth will serve two main functions. One’s to provide the data and evidence to implement and reach the SDG goals and targets, so tell us where we are and how quickly we have to go reach the goals. The other’s using mHealth, telemedicine and telediagnosis to achieve better healthcare. eHealth also has the potential to help to cross many barriers, such as the Human resources for Health (HRH), low capacity and shortage of assets such as equipment and infrastructure. It could also bring down the healthcare costs considerably.

    Two other benefits of eHealth are important too. eHealth is a game-changer. It’s the key accelerator technology that can create a new trajectory to take us off the business as usual path. ICT, especially mobile broadband, has demonstrated the fastest, global technology uptake in human history, and its healthcare can harness its impacts and values.

    ICT offers healthcare a new, high value platform for achieving SDGs. When the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) were set in 2000, broadband was maturing. There were 750 million mobile subscriptions worldwide. Now, there are over seven billion mobile subscriptions globally, and used by over 90% of the world´s population will have access to mobile broadband networks by 2021. This new universal connectivity offers an invaluable platform to deliver essential services like government services, education, health, energy and financial inclusion, and ensure that no-one’s left behind.

    These are the opportunities for Africa. The challenge is to take them.

  • ICT’s key for African countries to achieve SDGs

    Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim to guide priorities for developments needed in emerging countries, and for the sustainable transition needed across the world over the next 15 years. They include most of the highest priority objectives of the world’s economic, social and environmental agendas says an article in IT NEWS AFRICA.

    A report prepared by Accenture for the Global e-sustainability Initiative (GeSI) shows how ICT can help countries achieve their SDG objectives by 2030.

    To  improve people’s lives, an estimated 1.6 billion people could benefit from more accessible, affordable and better quality medical services through eHealth.

    Through eHealth’s strategic deployment ICT sector can be a catalyst to help solve critical and complex social, economic, and environmental challenges. However, Houlin Zhao, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ specialised agency for ICT, emphasises that despite the potential of technology, more than four billion people globally have yet to be connected. He said “Connecting the unconnected and bridging the digital divide must be addressed as an urgent policy priority requiring more innovative public-private partnerships and finance and investment models’”.

    Recurring themes throughout the report are the need for innovation and collaboration. Companies like Global Voice Group (GVG) are already making their contribution. GVG has developed innovative solutions that enable real-time data-driven governance supported by highly reliable and effective data systems. Patrice Baker, CEO of GVG believes that “Taking advantage of digital solutions will give countries the ability to measure, track and advance the SDGs within trusted environments and enable true progress.”

    African governments can use technological advances to take charge of their own socio-economic future through the smart integration of ICTs. eHealth, and its components such as mHealth, telemedicine, patient registries, analytics and Big Data are essential in helping countries reach their SDG’s goals for health.  

  • Kenya starts Health Data Collaborative to support SDGs

    Improving, combining and using health data offers important gains for policy initiatives. Kenya’s Ministry of Health, supported by WHO, has started its Health Data Collaborative (HDC) to integrate its health data systems into a unified, more efficient framework.

    There are still gaps in the country’s health information system and eHealth skills, especially in producing high-quality data and effectively using and analysing data to tackle priorities such as infectious diseases, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. It’s a permanent state of eHealth where solving priority one results in priority two rising to the top of the list.

    A common constraint is data systems that focus on single diseases sometimes operating in isolation. Limited integration and interoperability restricts their value to support government’s health initiatives. Their value’s enhanced significantly when data from several agencies can be combined.

    The HDC aims to harmonise financial and technical resources so they line up with country’s priorities. Kenya’s the first African country to launch the initiative. Dr Isabella Maina, head of Kenya’s Health Sector Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) says it’s needed to support “Our efforts toward meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. We need a strong health information system and M&E programme to track and guide our progress toward meeting those goals.”

    Several agencies combine for the HDC. They include other development agencies, countries, donors and academics. The next step’s to bring in between five and eight countries in 2016-17. It’ll be a big breakthrough for Africa’s eHealth.

  • MDGs make way for SDGs this year

    This year, after 15 years, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG) reach the end of their life. The top priority for the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) is eradicating poverty. Better health is goal 3 of the 17 SDGs. It’s described as “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” The components are:

    Reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live birthsEnd preventable deaths of new born children and under fivesEnd the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseasesReduce by a third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well beingStrengthen prevention and treatment of substance abuseHalve global deaths and injuries from road traffi­c accidentsEnsure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, including family planning, information and education, and integrating reproductive health into national strategies and programmesAchieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential healthcare and safe, elective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for allSubstantially reduce deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contaminationStrengthen WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlSupport research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseasesSubstantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retaining health workersStrengthen the capacity for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

    These are wide-ranging. As a strategic framework for African countries’ eHealth plans, they reveal a need for an equivalent wide-ranging and integrated investment, and avoiding a set of independent initiatives. This requires moves towards interoperability, analytics and a socio-technical architecture that extends from healthcare to people and communities. Each of these needs an expansion to current endeavours and a sustainable investment.