African experts root for digital tools to boost action on disease burden

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Infectious Disease Centre

Sub-Saharan African countries should leverage digital tools and innovations to strengthen response to a growing burden of infectious and non-communicable diseases, experts said at the ongoing Africa Health Agenda International Conference (AHAIC) 2021 on Tuesday.

“Investing in technology and innovations is key to improving health outcomes in Africa. The mobile based innovations in particular can ensure patients in remote settings have access to essential medicine,” said Githinji Gitahi, Global CEO and director-general of AMREF Health Africa Group.

The Africa Sustainability Index report launched on the sidelines of the virtual continental health summit says that countries that have prioritized e-health are recording a lower disease burden.

According to the report, Ethiopia, Rwanda and South Africa are some of the countries that recorded higher scores in health technologies and innovations amid robust financing and a conducive policy environment.

Gitahi said that investing in digital health should be prioritized as Africa gears up for recovery from COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted provision of primary healthcare services like skilled birth attendance and routine immunization.

Olumide Okunola, senior health specialist at World Bank said that harnessing digital tools is key to revamp Africa’s healthcare systems and enhance their efficiency.

“We need to deploy resources towards digitizing healthcare services, improve their efficiency and ensure they are responsive to the rising burden of non-communicable diseases like cancer and diabetes,” said Okunola.

He said that mobile-based applications have proved effective in expanding access to maternal and infant health services in under-served regions.

Glenda Gray, president and CEO, South African Medical Research Council said that investing in e-health will help boost access to life-saving drugs, contraceptives and vaccines against childhood ailments.

“Governments should give priority to health-related technologies and innovations in order to tackle disparities in access and quality of care,” said Gray. Enditem

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