Fore Word

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a reminder of the weakness of the health systems and significant needs Africa is facing in this area.  Whether it is due to a lack of infrastructure, skilled health workers, or a lack of access to quality health care, the inequalities and weaknesses of the health systems in Africa prevail. Following the pandemic, the digitalization of health systems is inevitable. The efficient and inclusive digitalization of said system is crucial to reaching sustainable development goals across African nations and its people. Particular attention must therefore be paid to data management, collection and usage to avoid any potential negative manipulation of sensitive data. Whether on the side of the beneficiary or on the professional, this issue involves many challenges, in terms of perception, use and appropriation. In Africa, other problems arise: the distance between the place of residence and the health infrastructure and the lack of supply. 

According to the World Health Organization, the continent accounts for 24% of the world’s patients, but only 3% of the world’s health professionals. Transform Health coalition aims to provide access to quality health services for all, particularly through digital access to quality health services for all, notably through digital technology. To achieve this, it is first necessary to increase the visibility of this theme, to make it known to the general public, to raise awareness of the challenges of universal access to health services, to build a strong and sustainable network of partners and to engage actors in the field of health and digital to create synergies. And all of this must be guided by clear and adaptable principles.

As such, during the launch for the first ever Francophone West Africa Regional Network on Digital Health (ReSAF), the following experts issued statements emphasizing the fundamental role of digital technology and data to achieve UHC.

Francophone West Africa Digital Health Network

Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana

« The time for Digital Health has arrived. We are called to use technology. A lot more. With digitalized health systems we can save time and speed up research as exemplified by the worldwide record breaking creation and procurement of COVID 19 vaccines. There are highly sophisticated digital systems that could contribute to the fight against malaria. As such, the creation of a formal and structured multisectoral regional network [ReSAF] whisking together the threads of a community of practitioners and experts building and learning from common experiences challenges and resources would definitely contribute a holistic coordinated effort across health sector for disease control and prevention. »

Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Chief Digital Advisor,
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC)

ReSAF Coordination Unit

ReSAF Strategic Documents

Situational Analysis
Gap ID & Network Strategy
Network Launch
ReSAF Membership Registration
Network Charter
Network engagement Strategy
Case Study : Senegal path towards Universal Health Coverage to digital systems

Medias and Press

Network Launch Link
Network engagement Strategy Link
Digital Health in Africa

Resources

Revolutionizing Sub-Saharan Africa data collection
Collection systems, archiving and statistics in Africa
implementation Framework of the Global Digital Health Strategy in the WHO African Region
Le Tech Observateur website
Kangame consulting website
Digital Health Policy Note
Digital Health Blue Note

Questions and Comments

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The Women Innovators Incubator is an initiative led by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa to bridge the gap in women-led innovation in Africa and address the additional barriers they face in taking their business ideas from concept to implementation. Specifically, the programme aims to develop the scientific innovation and entrepreneurial capabilities of the beneficiaries so that they can take their innovations to the next level. The women who participate in the initiative are one step closer to creating a scalable and sustainable business to address some of the most pressing healthcare challenges in Africa.

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award, launched in December 2020, received over 300 applications, however, only 21% of the applications were from women. The Women Innovators Incubator was therefore created to address the significant gender imbalances in access to finance, training and skills development, professional networks and overall participation in competitive environments.

Three winners have been selected to receive:
The winners of the first edition of the Women Innovators Incubator are:
Angella Kyomugisha

Co-CEO, Kaaro Health, Uganda

Angella Kyomugisha is a 29-year-old Ugandan, Co-CEO & Chief Financial Officer of Kaaro Health Uganda Limited.

She is a formal Medical Doctor. Kaaro Health uses simple mobile technologies to bring affordable, high-quality healthcare to every village in Africa. They deploy telehealth-enabled container clinics in villages that otherwise have no clinic within a 25-kilometer radius. Their work ensures that people have access to qualified healthcare professionals as well as critical equipment.

Nuriat Nambogo

Team Lead, MobiCare, Uganda

Nuriat Nambogo is a 35-year-old Ugandan and the Team leader for MobiCare.

Nuriat oversees the entire development and implementation of the project. MobiCare is a smartphone mobile based application that helps to link patients to health workers and enables convenient appointment scheduling. Health workers licensed to practice and attached to private health facilities are voluntarily requested to register with MobiCare.

Marie Chantal Umunyana

Founder and Managing Director, Umubyeyi, Rwanda

Marie Chantal Umunyana, is a 26-year-old medical student, Founder and Managing Director at Umubyeyi.

Umubyeyi intends to provide evidence-based information on maternal & child wellbeing and parenting. It is a digital health initiative for youth, young couples, pregnant women, and young mothers. It aims to make health information accessible by applying a comprehensive approach in improving maternal and child wellbeing using technology tools.

Gender equality is a fundamental human right and is vital for a prosperous world, a thriving Africa.

Women representing half of the world population, it is more than necessary to empower them to actively engage in all areas of society.

Gender equality supports all the essential foundations for a healthy economy and prosperous nations and is vital to the collective success of Africa against the sustainable development goals.

Currently, it is expected that gender gaps will take over 120 years to close in Sub-Saharan Africa, and over 135 years for pay and leadership equity to be reached. Historically women have been excluded from decision making spaces and programs that affect their health and well-being. Voice, participation, and leadership are vital for the empowerment of women.

Achieving gender equality is beneficial for everyone, giving each person equal opportunities at work and in the public sphere. It is about reaching better education and health outcomes, lower mortality rates and a higher per capita income.

The African LeadHERs initiative was launched on the occasion of the Generation Equality Forum which took place from 30 June to 2 July, organized by UN Women and co-chaired by the governments of France and Mexico in partnership with civil society and youth. The aim of the event was to make concrete commitments to gender equality, following the previous ones made in Beijing in 1995.

African LeadHERs started off with a radio show called « Youth – the floor is yours », organized on 30 June 2021 with the National Youth Alliance for Reproductive Health (ANJSR) on the theme of « Bodily autonomy and rights in reproductive and sexual health ». The show was dedicated to giving a voice to women who are committed and active in this field and to discussing concrete solutions so that women in Africa can make their own decisions about their health.

Following this, in collaboration with the Senegalese fashion brand Tongoro, a fashion show was held on 5 July, bringing together leaders from the world of culture and art, to inspire and engage women.

African LeadHERs supports the inclusion of women and girls on public platforms and in leadership and aims to encourage women’s and girls, in all their diversity, to significantly participate in decision-making spaces for improved public health.

Gender Equality is paramount to achieving every one of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals and at Speak Up Africa, we are committed to transforming this belief into meaningful action and engagement.

Through the African LeadHERs program, we partner with leaders from all sectors of society, including sports, fashion, culture and art to creatively work together to build a stronger, fairer and more inclusive world.

Logo Voix EssentiELLEs

 

Voice, decision-making and leadership are vital factors for the empowerment of women. These factors ensure that women can express their preferences, demands, views and interests, and that they can gain access to decision-making positions. Only when women and girls are empowered and supported to actively participate in decision-making processes can effective policies, based on their concrete experiences, which take into account gender differences and cultural sensitivities, be developed and implemented.

Voix EssentiELLES aims to strengthen women and girls, in all of their diversity, by meaningfully engaging them in decision-making processes and spaces that influence health policies and programmes.

Managed by the Dakar-based policy and advocacy tank Speak Up Africa, and strategically supported and co-funded by Fondation CHANEL and The Global Fund, Voix EssentiELLES was launched in July 2021 to support the efforts of various women-led community-based organisations with a fund and capacity-building programme, through the University of ExcELLEnce, in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

24 civil society and community-based organisations were chosen from across these three countries. Particular attention has been paid to the issues of gender-based violence, reproductive health and the fight against tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria.

Organisations taking part in the initiative

In Burkina Faso
In Côte d’Ivoire
In Senegal

Voix EssentiELLES Advisory Committee

Made up of experts, this committee was established in September 2021 to guide Speak Up Africa in the implementation of the Voix EssentiELLES initiative, including the development and implementation of engagement strategies and a capacity building programme.

Members of the committee in Senegal:
Members of the committee in Côte d’Ivoire:
Members of the committee in Burkina Faso:

 

Follow the news of the initiative

Neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and malaria disproportionately affect the poorest members of society and are a major obstacle to Africa’s economic and social development.

These diseases have begun to receive increased attention from the international community, with a number of international declarations and commitments being signed around the world, with leaders pledging to prioritize the control and elimination of these diseases. Thanks to the commitments made by President Paul Kagame and the heads of government of many countries, the Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, in June 2021 provides an opportunity to garner global attention and accelerate action to end these preventable and treatable diseases. It is also important community engagement from the onset ensures acceptance of communication messages and implementation of local NTD and malaria initiatives.

Follow the campaign’s progress!


 
 

Information is a vital resource during an emergency. Yet, COVID-19 is sparking significant fear and misinformation across the world. To promote access to reliable evidence and information, local experts must be ready, available and prepared to speak credibly in ways that resonate locally. Currently, significant misinformation around the research and development of new tools, from vaccines and therapeutics to diagnostics and disease surveillance, is hampering the ability for Africa to proactively shape its research agenda. Moreover, misinformation could slow the development and delivery of innovation – impeding clinical trial recruitment and the acceptability and uptake of new tools and measures to prevent, treat and diagnose diseases that hamper the development of our continent.

The COVID-19 crisis has continued this trend, at a time when it’s vital for local experts to be providing sound, factual information to help people interpret data and guidance, understand risks and appropriately respond to their local context. From public health to scientific research to the economy, there is a great deal of misinformation and speculation being spread via traditional and social media.

However, innovations in medical research over recent years have led to incredible achievements for public health in Africa. The African Voices of Science initiative aims to provide a platform for trusted African science leaders and health experts to share reliable information with African populations. Covering topics ranging from COVID-19 vaccine trials, to emerging new research in infectious diseases, we need to hear from credible voices, their perspectives and potential solutions to our health concerns.

Speak Up Africa is committed to promoting research and development (R&D) and encouraging scientific innovations as part of public discourse in Africa.

More information

The Africa Young Innovators for Health Award is a flagship programme launched by the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations (IFPMA) and Speak Up Africa to recognize and reward innovative projects by young African entrepreneurs in the health sector. It is supported by AMREF Health Africa, BroadReach, Ecobank Academy, the Galien Foundation, IntraHealth International, Microsoft 4 Afrika, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Social Change Factory, Africa.com and Scidev.net.

IFPMA and Speak Up Africa launched this award to provide an opportunity for young entrepreneurs in the health sector to develop innovative health projects. Indeed, Africa has almost a quarter of the world’s disease burden, but only 3% of the world’s health workforce and the continent is the youngest on the planet with 22% of its working age population owning a business. The first edition of the award, launched in December 2021, highlighted innovative solutions aimed at supporting health professionals who are leading the way in delivering care and promoting health. Applications were judged based on the project’s innovation, development potential and measurable and sustainable impact in supporting healthcare professionals.

The winners were awarded:

300 applications were received, 60 were selected, 15 shorlisted and 3 winners won the prize in September 2021:

1st Prize

Conrad Tankou, CEO, Global Innovation and Creative Space (GIC Space)

Founded by Dr Tankou, Global Innovation and Creative Space (GIC Space), through its flagship product GICMED, aims to reduce breast and cervical cancer mortality rates in disadvantaged communities in Africa and in rural areas that generally lack access to cancer care services. GICMED includes smartphone-based digital microscopy and colposcopy systems, as well as a telemedicine platform to enable women living in the most remote areas to be screened and diagnosed for these cancers on site by specialist doctors.

2nd Prize

John Mwangi, CEO of Daktari Media Africa

Daktari Online, a product of Daktari Media Africa, is an online medical resource platform that allows the health professional community to interact, educate themselves, publish research articles, attend training and earn Continuing Professional Development (CPD) points. Founded by John Mwangi, a computer scientist, Daktari Online currently supports the learning objectives of over 9,000 Kenyan health professionals for assessment and renewal of their licenses, providing relevant content created by experts in an easy-to-access format and helping health care providers collect evidence of their learning.

3rd Prize

Imodoye Abioro, CEO of Healthbotics Limited

Through its Mediverse product, Healthbotics uses artificial intelligence to power electronic medical record systems that allow healthcare professionals to enter and retrieve patient records using voice recognition, with or without internet access, on any device. Mediverse provides doctors with a virtual digital assistant that captures and records critical clinical data, prescriptions, treatment analyses and prognostic assessment while providing patient care.

Featured on CNN Inside Africa
Find out more about the Award

Raising the profile of immunization in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a two-fold challenge in Africa: curbing the spread of the coronavirus, whilst also maintaining access to essential health services for those suffering from other diseases. As COVID-19 requires an immediate response, it is crucial that health services are protected and progress in tackling issues such as malaria, immunization, neglected tropical diseases and inadequate access to sanitation is not compromised. The campaign’s objectives:

Immunization is the most cost-effective health intervention known to mankind. When countries can successfully provide vaccines to their children, they are already making an immense difference to the health of their citizens. Yet, globally, 1 in 5 children are still without access to even the most basic vaccines. A successful immunization program can contribute to stronger overall health by providing a structural foundation for national health systems.

Together with our partners, we contribute to increase immunization coverage levels in Africa by:

Learn more at www.staysafeafrica.org

Since 2015, Speak Up Africa has worked on filling the knowledge gap around menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in Senegal. To gain a better understand of MHM, Speak Up Africa conducted in 2016 a qualitative study to collect the variables and key indicators that define and explain the behaviors, attitudes and practices of girls and women during their menstruation period. To further its research, SUA conducted a quantitative and qualitative study in July 2017 in Pikine and Guédiawaye. Both cities regroup 50.7% of the total population of the Dakar region. The results from this latest study demonstrated that the subject of menstruation perpetuates shame amongst 55.81% and fear amongst 40.34% girls and women, with an 83.56% not being prepared to welcome their first menstrual cycle. In addition, there is a lack of access to clean and secure toilets leading to immense long-term repercussions and influence on women’s health, education and living conditions. This lack of access also has other effects including:

To contribute to reducing these challenges, Speak Up Africa launched the “No Taboo Periods” campaign, which is meant to:

To maximize community engagement around the issue of MHM, Speak Up Africa created “The Lab” in Pikine, where the majority of the population lives on less than $2 a day. The Lab was meant to be safe haven where women, girls, boys and men can freely discuss and exchange on issues related to MHM. Speak Up Africa worked in close collaboration with the Health District of Pikine to ensure our activities were fully integrated within the practices of the health pyramid. With the help of community health workers, neighbourhood godmothers, youth and women associations, Speak Up Africa reached about 12 000 people with key messaging around MHM.

In August 2017, Speak Up Africa was invited to participate in the National Girls’ Camp organized by the Office of the First Lady of Sierra Leone, her Excellency Sia Nyama Koroma, in order to facilitate a workshop on menstrual hygiene management. During this interactive workshop, dialogues took place with the 100 girls in attendance to learn about their perceptions and attitudes regarding menstrual hygiene management. We also distributed kits including reusable sanitary pads produced by ApiAfrique and communication materials presenting key MHM messages.

In December 2020, thanks to a partnership with l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie, Speak Up Africa started an initiative with Kitambaa, a social enterprise, which aims to provide to every young African girls and women of childbearing age with a kit of reusable pads that meets their hygienic needs, in order to enable them to participate equitably in the development of their country, by mitigating the upheavals – in their education and in their lives – caused by their periods and the lack of accessibility of disposable hygiene products and adequate infrastructure. Our joint initiative called “Menstrual hygiene management: from taboo to economic empowerment” strives to set up a mobile menstrual hygiene management lab whose pilot phase targets the communities of Sandiara, in Senegal.

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