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.