Africa Continues to Show eHealth Leadership

Piers Bocock

Chief of Party, USAID LEARN

In late 2010, there was a ground-breaking summit held in Accra, Ghana, which focused on the growing sector of mHealth on the African continent, an event I wrote about at the time.  It brought together practitioners, policy makers, and service providers in one place to chart a course forward.  In reflection of that meeting, I am most excited about the real progress being shown not by donors or technology providers, but by governments. Looking toward the future, in order to have a sustainable mHealth project it would be necessary to get the buy in from the greater government.

Just over a year a later, innovation has moved forward and there are a lot more mHealth programs and as foreseen, government buy in does prove to be a large factor in successful projects. Recently I read that certain countries are showing more leadership than others in Wayan Vota’s provocative piece “The Top 5 Countries for ICT4D in Africa are Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and...?”.  It’s no accident that the previous summit was held in Ghana, and this one is being held in Kenya; it’s exciting to see that the commitment made in December 2010 to hold the next summit in Nairobi is coming to fruition.  It’s exciting to see there is still momentum at a large scale for mHealth projects and programs. On April 18-19, Anadach Group is once again convening senior leaders from across the continent as well as other thought leaders for the e-Health Africa Conference to provide a forum to discuss the critical issue at hand for mHealth: how best to integrate and incorporate mHealth into broader eHealth strategies.

I look forward to hearing how this conference goes, and I am pleased that K4Health’s Scott Dalessandro will be there to represent our project and talk about how eLearning and Knowledge Management should also be part of comprehensive eHealth strategies.  And I am delighted that the theme of this conference is about eHealth and integration, because a holistic, systematic approach is the only pathway forward out of the “pilot-itis” that so many mHealth projects seem to struggle with.  Through the past four years, mHealth practitioners, advocates and policy makers have learned that to scale up and be sustainable, mHealth projects must be better incorporated into national eHealth strategies; the question now is how.  I expect that those attending the eHealth Africa Conference 2012 will get some answers to that question.

Learn more about the e-Health Africa Conference.