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LETTER TO EDITOR
Year : 2018  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 36-37

Employing digital technology to strengthen public health services in African region


1 Department of Community Medicine, Member of the Medical Education Unit & Medical Research Unit, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Web Publication22-Jan-2018

Correspondence Address:
Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, 3rd Floor, Ammapettai Village, Thiruporur - Guduvanchery Main Road, Sembakkam, Kancheepuram - 603 108, Tamil Nadu
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/NJGP.NJGP_23_17

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How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Employing digital technology to strengthen public health services in African region. Niger J Gen Pract 2018;16:36-7

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Employing digital technology to strengthen public health services in African region. Niger J Gen Pract [serial online] 2018 [cited 2022 Oct 6];16:36-7. Available from: https://www.njgp.org/text.asp?2018/16/1/36/223812

Dear Editor,

Mobile phones have occupied an indispensable place in the lives of everyone and a sharp rise in its sale and usage has been observed across the world.[1] Considering its ubiquitous presence and ability to transfer the message in real time to distant locations, mobile phones possess a great relevance in the field of public health, especially in remote and rural settings.[1],[2] In fact, significant gains have been achieved at the global level with the help of mobile-based applications (like text messages to ensure periodic antenatal checkups or estimation of sugar levels among diabetics or cancer screening) for the benefit of the general population.[1],[2],[3],[4]

It will not be wrong to say that application of mobile phones in the health sector can revamp the existing functioning and will not only empower the health workers in exercising their roles and responsibilities but will even assist the general population by improving their accessibility to health services and quality of life.[2],[3] The merits of digitalization of health are many-fold such as saving human lives, reduction in financial expenses, and ensuring equitable distribution of health services, owing to which a large number of people can avail the services and are benefited simultaneously.[2],[4]

Moreover, in a world where the health system has to consistently aim to improve the essential attributes of health services (such as quality, accessibility, and affordability), incorporation of information, and communication technology (ICT) in the process of health-care delivery will definitely play a major part in neutralizing the existing inequalities so that no one is left behind.[2],[3] Most of the nations have established, revitalized, and deployed national eHealth strategies and other telehealth-related services, under the guidance of the World Health Organization (WHO).[2],[3],[4]

On a similar note, most of the African nations are facing the challenge of poor health indicators, weak health-care delivery system, inadequate number of trained health professionals, poor infrastructure, humanitarian emergencies, and geographical inaccessibility.[3],[4] To improve the existing scenario in the region and to employ digital technology to provide essential services, the regional office of the WHO has signed an official document with the International Telecommunications Union for 2018–2030 to promote the application of digital services for saving lives and upgrading health standards of the general population.[4]

The objectives of the agreement are to establish a platform to expand digital health at the level of nations and encourage capacity building activities to have a workforce who can utilize ICT.[4] Further, the plan is to bring different partners under the single umbrella for the strengthening of public-private partnership to eventually improve the resilience of health systems and access to the available services.[4] In addition, it will play an important role in the strengthening of the existing ICT services, and there is a huge scope for adoption of cost-effective solutions for supporting the health sector in domains such as health-care delivery, provision of medical information, and awareness campaigns.[4]

To conclude, digitalization of health can serve as an important means to accomplish universal health coverage and the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in the low- and middle-income nations of Africa, and thus policymakers should take all efforts for its smooth expansion.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Electromagnetic Fields and Public Health: Mobile Phones-Fact Sheet No. 193; 2014. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs193/en/. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 31].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Adopting mobile technology to improve maternal care in rural and low-resource settings. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:266-7.  Back to cited text no. 2
  [Full text]  
3.
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS, Ramasamy J. Employing mobile applications to improve the outcomes of adolescent's pregnancy. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2017;10:517-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
  [Full text]  
4.
World Health Organization. WHO and ITU to Use Digital Technology to Strengthen Public Health Services in Africa; 2017. Available from: http://www.afro.who.int/news/who-and-itu-use-digital-technology-strengthen -public-health-services-africa. [Last accessed on 2017 Oct 31].  Back to cited text no. 4
    



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Digital Medicine. 2019; 5(2): 90
[Pubmed] | [DOI]



 

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