Digital health technology improves quality, patient safety in Africa

13Apr 2019
The Guardian Reporter
DAR ES SALAAM
The Guardian
Digital health technology improves quality, patient safety in Africa

A World Health Organisation report published in 2018 stated that within Africa, about 15% of all hospital activity and expenditure was a direct result of adverse events, and that the costs of treating safety failures amount to trillions of dollars each year.

The investments needed to improve patient safety pale in comparison to the costs of harm.

Millions of patients across Africa die or are injured every year due to unsafe and poor-quality healthcare. A majority of these cases could be avoidable through the implementation of digital health technology, with out-of-hospital care and monitoring forecasted to grow globally by 30 percent to cross the $25 billion mark in 20193.

 

Ryan Sanderson, Exhibition Director of Africa Health Exhibition and Conferences, explains that the demands on healthcare systems in Africa are also increasing as non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes and heart disease are on the rise. “We are, however, seeing that technology is transforming how healthcare is delivered on the continent, giving more people in remote areas there and around the world access to better care.”

 

Fewer than 50% of Africans have access to modern health facilities4. While this remains a challenge for many developing nations on the continent, countries like Rwanda are embracing technology as a way to improve healthcare for its citizens, especially those living in remote and rural areas.

 

Sanderson says that Rwanda is a pioneer in digital health in Africa. “Their successes include the use of an artificial intelligence-based algorithms in mobile phones to get a diagnosis, doctors using telemedicine to consult, blood delivery by medical drones, and a central electronic health records system ensuring data is collected accurately. The insights that can be learnt from projects like this are critical in order to achieve Universal Healthcare (UHC).”

 

“Africa needs to embrace digital technology on every level,” adds Sanderson. “Artificial intelligence, telemedicine, drones, health apps, and mobile solutions will bring healthcare to a whole new level. Smart health needs to be recognized as one of the pillars of a country’s information and communication technology (ICT) policy. ICT is really something that governments need to prioritise for development as a whole.”

 

Innovation in digital healthcare will be at the forefront of discussions at the 9th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Conferences, which will be held at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg, from 28 – 30 May 2019. Key topics include:

 

Digital health: past, present and the future

e-Patients role in a sustainable digital health system

Rwanda health project: Digital solutions for a country wide mHealth program

While offering the latest medical education through 19 CPD accredited conferences, supported by various healthcare associations across South Africa, the 2019 edition will also be debuting four new conferences including Digital Health, Laboratory Medicine, Infectious Diseases and Physiotherapy.

 

The Leaders Forum will be returning this year to premiere thought-leaders from across the private and public spectrum, offering actionable insights into the healthcare industry. The 2019 event will also see the launch of the internationally renowned MEDLAB Series – a portfolio of medical laboratory exhibitions and conferences across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and the Americas.

 

“Africa Health has been successfully running for the past 8 years as the most efficient platform for business generation and technological development for the sector in the African region,” says Sanderson. “With a decent number of medical lab companies already exhibiting, the depth of the industry is much more. Co-locating MEDLAB Africa with Africa Health will provide a solid kick-start to the launch.”

 

Africa Health, organized by Informa Exhibition’s Global Healthcare Group, is the largest platform on the continent for international and local companies to meet, network and do business with the ever-growing African healthcare market.  The 2019 edition is expected to attract more than 10,500 healthcare professionals, with representation from over 160 countries and over 600 leading international and regional healthcare and pharmaceutical suppliers, manufacturers and service providers.