Digital Health Ecosystem for African countries

Digital technologies will influence the future of well-being and economic growth worldwide. African economies are well-positioned to benefit from this accelerating technological change that will help to overcome limitations and the costs of physical infrastructure in important areas
of economic life.
The health sector is benefitting from this trend, in particular in Africa. Substantial investment in digital solutions in recent years have already improved health services in Africa. African leaders who gathered at the African Ministerial Dialogue on digital health leadership at the May 2017 World Health Assembly affirmed their commitment to digital health and identified the pathway towards realising strong Digital Health Ecosystems in their countries. A Digital Health Ecosystem is the holistic application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to support and improve health care delivery, its coordination and integration across providers.
In this study, framework conditions, requirements and options for the successful, sustainable implementation of Digital Health Ecosystems in Africa are analysed with the goal to create an action-oriented framework for digital
infrastructure and services, based on a well-founded health policy context. Relevant partners include decision makers, health system operators and industry in African countries, development partners and companies with expertise in Digital Health Ecosystems and applications.
The study provides a basis for these actors to jointly develop Digital Health Ecosystems that address the respective needs and technical requirements of African countries.

The study results are summarised in seven key
messages and recommendations:
Seven Key Messages
Digital health supports the Sustainable Development Goals and Universal Health Coverage.
To meet the health targets of the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, progress must be accelerated, in particular in regions with the highest burden of disease. When implemented appropriately, digital health is a great enabler towards better health care and health coverage.
The establishment of a national Digital Health Ecosystem should be based on an integrated framework.
A sustained transformation of health systems requires a holistic vision, driven by priorities and a unifying approach that ensures that all eHealth applications are integrated through a national digital health infrastructure platform—a Digital Health Ecosystem.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for digital health.
Implementing and sustaining digital applications in the health sector is demanding, complicated and time-consuming. There is no one-size-fits-all platform solution. Instead, each solution has to be tailored to local needs, circumstances and resources.
Instead of developing individual pilots, governments
and development partners should focus on integration.
Stand-alone eHealth implementations and pilot projects that rarely reach scale or sustainability
should be avoided. Focus on a few health care
and/or public health priorities to guide nation-wide investments. Ensure coordination and integration
of all stakeholders.

There are four building blocks for successfully
implementing a National Digital Health Ecosystem: a strategy, roadmap, implementation elements and evaluation.
Drafting an eHealth strategy will not do the job. Three additional building blocks are needed: An actionable, realistic roadmap on how to move from strategy to implementation and long-term sustainability, six implementation elements (national platform, core services, interoperability guidance, leveraging the “open” approach, change management, governance and legal framework) and measuring impact to guide further development.
Fostering a Digital Health Ecosystem requires close coordination of all stakeholder, with strong leadership from governments.
Governments make decisions on health system structures, regulation and financing and determine the needs, priorities and investment procedures in Digital Health Ecosystems. To avoid the disparate development of siloed eHealth applications, a national framework must include close coordination between all stakeholders. Therefore, calls for tender specifications must fully align with the national digital health framework.
Digital health investments should be based on a cooperative investment approach.
To translate opportunities into action, a cooperative investment approach is recommended. Customers, local Ministries of Health, health care providers and health professionals, national and international development partners and financiers, not-for-profit and commercial suppliers, providers of digital health software, hardware and services should come together and collaboratively pursue country or district-specific opportunities.

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Amref Health Africa Partners in a $35 Million Knowledge Management Project

he Johns Hopkins Centre for Communication Programmes (CCP) in partnership with Amref Health Africa, Busara Centre for Behavioural Economics, and FHI 360 has been awarded the U.S. Agency for International Development’s newest five-year, $35 million global knowledge management project.

Dubbed Knowledge SUCCESS (Strengthening Use, Capacity, Collaboration, Exchange, Synthesis, and Sharing), the new project will use the latest learnings from behavioural science and design thinking to make knowledge management easy, attractive, salient and timely.

Creating lasting health change in Africa

Amref has in the last 60 years invested heavily in the health sector with a mission of creating lasting health change in Africa.  This has accorded Amref immense knowledge and increased footprint in the region implementing models that work for the people of Africa. Amref sees this as a great opportunity to consolidate the amazing work going on in the Reproductive Health space in the region to enable continuous learning and improved programming for stakeholders in the region. Housed within Amref’s Institute of Capacity Development (ICD), Amref’s role will therefore include;

  1. Providing platforms to connect key players and stakeholders within government agencies, academic institutions, and NGOs in reproductive health to build a network of regional experts.
  2. Development and packaging of knowledge products from our own experiences and those of like-minded partners to ensure knowledge exchange for improved program delivery. These knowledge products will consolidate the latest evidence and best practices on family planning, reproductive health and other global health areas into tools that make it easy to share with the people on the ground who need it. The goal is to improve the health of men, women and families everywhere.
  3. Leveraging innovative technologies to build a knowledge hub which will include a repository of knowledge products and channels of information exchange amongst stakeholders in the region.

The new work will build on the success of CCP’s Knowledge for Health (K4Health) project, which wraps up in 2019. Knowledge SUCCESS will aid other projects funded by USAID that do supply, service delivery, demand generation and advocacy work. In order to fill its mandate to strengthen health systems and improve voluntary family planning and reproductive health programs, Knowledge SUCCESS will work closely with staff in the field to ensure that local organizations can gain the expertise they need to incorporate knowledge management approaches and techniques into what they do.

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