• A Whole-of-Government approach to investing in digital technologies to achieve the SDGs

    What do school children, farm animals and patients have in common? Well, rather a lot, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and some of its partners. Especially when it comes to investing in Information Communication Technology (ICT) to advance progress towards Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

    The SDG Digital Investment Framework calls for countries to take a whole-of-government approach to investing in digital technology. The paper shows how to “identify which technologies matter most to achieve the SDGs.” The approach was developed by teams from ITU and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).

    Its theory of change is shown in the figure below, extracted from the ITU document. It is about a small set of common ICT building blocks helping countries to deliver many high-impact use cases that support progress towards SDGs.


    Figure: SDG Digital Investment Framework theory of change.

    The paper provides an approach for countries to identify reusable ICT building blocks across sectors, particularly education, health and agriculture, and calls on governments and the private sector to work together to fund these shared foundation elements. The list of candidate ICT building blocks is extensive, including:

    Analytics and Business Intelligence ServicesArtificial Intelligence ServicesClient Case Management ServicesCollaboration Management ServicesConsent Management ServicesContent Management ServicesData Collection ServicesDigital RegistrieseMarketplace Services Mobility Management Services Geographical Information Services Identification and Authentication Services Information Mediator Services Messaging Services Payment Services Reporting and Dashboard Services Scheduling ServicesSecurity Services Shared Data Repositories Terminology Services Workflow and Algorithm Services.

    It’s a bold approach that resonates with other initiatives underway in African countries, and across African regions. eHNA looks forward to reporting on further developments.


    Image from the SDG Digital Investment Framework report.

  • An ITU/WHO “how to” guide for building interoperable digital health infrastructure

    As we strengthen African national eHealth strategies, interoperability is gathering momentum too. It's a critical component of our national eHealth programmes. We are looking for a common, comprehensive framework, incorporating all data sources and information flows, both electronic and paper-based, providing a clear development and consolidation path for all components, along a digital development maturity model.

    Fortunately, there’s a handbook about how to do it: Digital Health Platform: Building a Digital Information Infrastructure (Infostructure) for Health, published by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in collaboration with the World Health Organization.

    The figure below provides a high level overview of the Digital Health Platform (DHP) concept, its components, and how users interact with it. 

    Figure: How a DHP interacts with external applications and users

    The handbook suggests that a well-designed DHP will help countries to achieve the following priorities:

    Overall quality and continuity of careAdherence to clinical guidelines and best practicesEfficiency and affordability of services and health commodities, by reducing duplication of effort and ensuring effective use of time and resources Health-financing models and processesRegulation, oversight, and patient safety resulting from increased availability of performance data and reductions in errorsHealth policy-making and resource allocation based on better quality data.

    The DHP Handbook illustrates how DHP components are derived from the National eHealth Strategy. It is a detailed guide including illustrative case studies from Liberia, Estonia, Canada, India and Norway. It’s essential reading for African countries’ as we invest in our national eHealth programmes.

  • Ghana's cyber security strategy with ITU underway

    Ghana’s National Government has made a commitment to transform the ICT sector, by putting in place policies and regulations to create an enabling environment for ICT. Deputy Minister for Communications, Victoria Hamah, announced that the national cyber security strategy is already under development.

    The National Government has signed an agreement with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to develop a National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) to respond to all security threats that may affect national security or the well-being of Ghanaians using the Internet. These new developments provide Ghana with the capacity and technical capabilities needed to deal effectively to cyber-crimes and cyber-attacks.

    ”This project demonstrates the commitment of Ghana to unleash the full potential of ICT by ensuring security in cyberspace and building trust and confidence in the use of the Internet,” said Minister of Communications Edward Omane Boamah.

    The project sets a template for African countries to ensure that their regulations follow their ICT developments and initiatives. It is crucial that ICT is adequately regulated and secure for eHealth to flourish.

    You may be interested in Most health data breaches are cyber-crimes.