Disease outbreaks stress Africa’s health systems. Better controls are needed, and a new control hub is starting up.
A new disease control hub is set to be launched in Egypt to extend across Africa. It’ll use technology to trace and control diseases, predict outbreaks and engage communities in affected areas across Africa, says an article in IT News Africa. The African Health Data and Disease Control Hub (AHDCH) is an initiative by the Government of Egypt through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD), with the Association of Friends of the National Cancer-free Initiative (AFNCI) as its implementing partner and Microsoft providing technology support for the platform development.
The initiative comes in-line with the African Union’s call for an integrated and innovative effort to improve prevention, detection, and response to public health threats. The initiative is being launched at this year’s Africa 2016 Forum in Egypt. The AHDCH concept is in response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which affected more than 20,000 people, bringing devastation to several West African countries. The epidemic showed that prevention and control of disease outbreaks needs coordinated action and greater national, regional and international collaboration.
Better cooperation and regional communication was emphasised by Dr Ousmane Ly at the Africa Healthcare Summit in London on the 17 to18 February. He believes eHealth and digital technologies are key to monitoring disease outbreaks and could have played a major role in curbing the spread of Ebola.
The hub will include a state-of-the-art virtual platform and will leverage Egypt’s recent advancements in ICT and data infrastructure, its commitment to the healthcare, pharmaceutical and environmental industries, and its capacity development and training expertise. It hopes to be a one-stop solution for all African countries, providing a nationwide directory of diseases, prevention methods, medical facility maps, vaccinations and medications. In addition, it will publish government efforts, news and campaigns, as well as provide communication tools to reach out to African citizens and raise awareness. The initiative is open for collaboration and contribution by various relevant national, regional and international organisations.
“There is a lot of momentum and enthusiasm at both regional and international levels for a disease control hub, following the Ebola outbreak,” says Ambassador Dr. Hazem Fahmy, Secretary General of EAPD, leading sponsor of the initiative. “The spread of diseases poses a threat to African stability, growth and international security. The AHDCH aims to play a primary role in disease control, enhancing the quality of life of citizens in affected areas, and helping African countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals around health and the environment.”
“We are using our cloud platform to make the AHDCH a central portal, where governments, policy makers, non-profits, researchers and other organisations from across Africa can collaborate on disease control,” says Khaled Abdel Kader, General Manager of Microsoft Egypt. “Through Microsoft’s Azure for Research Initiative, researchers will be able to take full advantage of the power and scalability of cloud computing for collaboration, computation, and data-intensive processing.”
AFNCI will provide customised training and manage the hub’s day-to-day operations, including collecting data, generating reports and maintaining an active user community. Completion of the hub is planned for December 2016, with a roll-out over a period of three years to ensure its sustainable functioning, funding and quality performance.