nine-year-old poisoned

A nine-year-old boy died after being rushed to hospital on Saturday. Photo: Adobe Stock

Innovation touted as key to Africa’s healthcare crisis

Experts suggest the key to resolving health crises on the African continent can be found in the development of innovative new technology.

nine-year-old poisoned

A nine-year-old boy died after being rushed to hospital on Saturday. Photo: Adobe Stock

Innovations in medical technology (Medtech) can play a major role in alleviating health risks in sub-Saharan Africa, where challenges are exacerbated by climate change, limited infrastructure and a lack of healthcare professionals, a health executive has said.  

With the rise in the cost of healthcare globally, Medtech has the ability to reduce costs, improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare, as well as support the shift to value-based care, according to Ryan Sanderson, the exhibition director of the Africa Health Exhibition and Conferences.

Medtech market booming

According to the latest report on Medtech and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), the market is expected to rise to $158.1 billion by 2022, illustrating  how the healthcare sector is increasingly becoming reliant on Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to create solutions to healthcare challenges. 

Sanderson said that the strengthening of health systems through digital innovation was dependent on collaboration between private, public and development partners.

This year has brought to the fore the need for innovative collaborations in the digital world, he said, which included healthcare organisations partnering with social media giants. 

Social media must be used responsibly

The latest public health crisis, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), has seen the widespread misinformation about the virus, leading to an “infodemic”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). 

As a way to counter the spread of misinformation, one successful tactic that has been employed is Google’s SOS Alert that comes into effect when people search for “coronavirus”. Instead of featuring the latest news about the virus, the alert directs people to the WHO’s social media accounts to feature correct information.

“Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Google have changed the way we communicate and share information. Partnerships with these channels and other digital giants is becoming more and more important in being able to mine and provide accurate health information to both healthcare professionals and the general public at large,” Sanderson said.

Online platforms are not the only way that health challenges are being tackled. In Rwanda, drones are used to assist with the transportation of blood to rural areas, while Uganda’s SMS for Life programme tracks and manages medicine stock levels through the use of mobile phones. 

“The IoMT has become the leading source of solutions to improve access and delivery of health services, especially in low resource settings,” added Sanderson.

These issues, among others, will be addressed at the 10th annual Africa Health Exhibition & Conferences, to be held at the Gallagher Convention Centre, Johannesburg on May 12 to 14.

– African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Desiree Erasmus